January 19, 2009
I participate in lots of things these days by watching them on television. You have to guard against that as you get older.
But for the next couple of days, even though today most of my day will be spent in airports, I expect to be gluing my eyes to any television set I get near. Scenes like the above--the crowd at the "We Are One" concert for the incoming administration in Washington--have me and the rest of us on the outside looking in both euphoric and apprehensive. Is it as good as it looks?
It's hard to put words to the elation that seems to pervade the land at this particular changing of the guard. We don't want to expect too much, but just to have a strong hand at the helm and a sense that the country is at last united in wanting to do the right thing is so encouraging. The sad thing is that we had veered so far from that in the 20th Century that we had become cynical, and until we were told it was okay to hope and promise to do better (and mean it) that we could actually do better. The sense of optimism and change reminded me of Woodstock, which I also didn't attend, but saw in film clips on television.
Dan Rather, not usually my favorite pundit, said an oddly interesting thing on the Chris Matthews Show yesterday. He said that America was ready for the kind of leader who landed that plane in the Hudson the other day. I think he was right. That weird event became somehow symbolic of what the country is hoping will happen with Barack Obama as president. In the plane crash, tragedy was averted by a steady hand on the helm, a wise and prepared professional who did everything that could be done and prevailed, saving lives and giving the whole world confidence that competence and wisdom were still alive in the U.S.
Woodstock may have been fun. But it was nothing like this.