Coronation in D.C.

Yesterday, in the place where I often buy beer, the storekeeper was watching an action-adventure movie on his big TV. Usually, the news is on. This was an obvious case of ceremony fatigue. Barack Obama’s inauguration seemed to have been going on for days and days. There was the choo-choo train that retraced Abe Lincoln’s route. And the speech in front of the Lincoln Monument.

“He’s going to get shot like Lincoln, too,” Mr. Storekeeper said.

Well, talk about being handed a hot potato! I defaulted to a joke about all those people who went to Washington and would be tripping on mushrooms. Yeah, I know that crowd.

When I got into the car, even Mitch Albom complained on the radio about all the ceremonials, although he didn’t foretell any gun barrels pointed toward O.

After hearing the speech today, I’d guess a lot of people wished they had been tripping on mushrooms or at least tippling some Old Glorious Granddad from a flask. The address was as ordinary as a State of the Union message. No worries about making room for it in the annals of momentous American oratory. I had expected to be moved to tears, to be inspired to join a noble cause, to put my house up for sale tomorrow and commit my life to putting NIke warm-up suits on the backs of naked Amazonian savages and helping them to memorize the inaugural poem (which was utterly forgettable, generic, and probably has a self-erasing feature, a metrical tripwire—if indeed there was any meter employed—that makes the lines impossible to memorize).

Last evening, after I’d returned home with my precious beer, George and Charlie of ABC news assured us that this speech was entirely Obama’s and he had worked on it throughout last weekend, polishing and perfecting until an incomparable iridescence was achieved. (OK, ABC news wouldn’t use “incomparable iridescence”; in fact, the other night, they misspelled the word “icy” in a subtitle, writing “icey” instead.) Anyway, President Obama declaimed his speech well enough this noon, but what I heard supports the case of those who say he has no original ideas and is just style over substance.

We will see. I do hope the new president, with the help of the American people who are now free of ideology and can unite, will be able to conquer the hate-filled terrorists and work with Muslim nations and extend an open hand to dictators who unclench their fists while we eradicate poverty and improve education and stop hogging up the world’s resources and reverse global warming, although it sure would be appreciated if this latter could be temporarily delayed a few weeks so that we might have a January thaw.

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