Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Eight Years Ago

Now that Barack Obama's presidency has been underway for over a full 24 hours, I have to be honest and ask myself if I don't truly regret going to DC for the inauguration. By all the accounts from the photographers I've followed, it was definitely a cold and crowded situation and it appears that just getting in and out of The Mall would have been a full day's work. I don't think I would have had the mobility or vantage point that I would've liked, but then again it definitely would have been cool to see what 1.5 million people looks like. At any rate, I'm not too upset by having stayed here (I watched/photographed the event from Times Square), and it was a real treat watching the recaps on television last night on our brand new high-definition TV.

This past summer over the 4th of July I spent four nights in DC, my longest stay ever there. Yesterday and today I've been recalling a lot of experiences from that trip in trying to gather my mental bearings of how DC is layed out, which direction is which, etc. But I've also been thinking a lot about one of my first visits to DC, in January of 2001, for George W. Bush's first inauguration. That was also a widely-attended event, not so much because of the inauguration as much as the protest to the inauguration. I've always said that experience was my first real taste of protest/dissent/activism. I had just moved to NYC five months prior and going to DC to cover the protests felt like a big assignment to me.
I overheard last night on ABC that the DC Police Department hadn't reported a single arrest throughout the day. Surely, I thought, there had to be some sort of protest where people were getting angry. I'm not thinking so much about angry folks protesting Obama's citizenship as much as anarchist types who aren't going to be happy no matter who's in office. Apparently there was one protest regarding Guantanamo Bay, but it was more of a call for Obama to close it. Quite an opposite image from the egg-tossing and angry banners of 2001:

I am pretty optimistic about the next four years. That being said, I really think there's only one direction we can go as a country. To me, this inauguration seems to have the vibe of one big three-weeks-delayed New Year's Resolution. I just hope we can start getting some traction toward solving this economic crisis and withdrawing troops responsibly from Iraq. I'm worried Americans are going to become impatient with Obama. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully, four years from now, we'll be in a vastly different position and hurtling headlong on a peaceful trajectory into 2013.

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