For me President Obama’s Inauguration 2013 was: Meet the new inauguration—same as the old inauguration. I live in Washington only a few blocks south of the Mall, so starting at four in the chilly, windy morning I could see from my window the hordes of people in their padded jackets streaming up the sidewalks, their scarf-shielded faces turned in only one direction: north. They were like the thousands of pod people in the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers coursing into the town square to do the silent bidding of the alien-planet masters who have taken over their minds.
Most significantly, those bundled-up quasi-zombies were the same people I had seen streaming up that same street to the Mall four years ago to attend and celebrate Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. There were hundreds of the same hip young people. No matter that unemployment among 18 to 29-year-olds is around 12 percent; that more than half of new college graduates are either still looking for jobs or toiling as interns and baristas; that gasoline now costs more than twice what it did at the time of Obama’s first inauguration; or that the national debt has shot up from the once-shocking $11 trillion to a no-longer-shocking $16 trillion during the last four years. The young still think that Obama looks cooler and has more “compassion” than his rivals, and besides, didn’t the GOP want to take our contraceptives away?
Obama’s speech? It was yada, yada, yada, more of the same, except, from what I gather (I didn’t watch it on television or anywhere else), somewhat heavier in base-pandering: more “climate change,” more gay rights, more togetherness, more government programs for all. Paul Ryan got booed, whereas last time around it was George W. Bush who got booed. Michelle Obama wore a shimmering red inaugural ball gown, whereas last time she wore a shimmering white inaugural ball gown. Over the next four years there will be more taxes whether people like them or not, there will be more raising of the debt ceiling in ingenious political maneuvers by Obama, who will manage to blame the GOP for everything that has fiscally gone wrong; there will be a crisis in Obamacare that will morph into a can kicked down the road into 2017; there will be some new ultra-liberal Supreme Court justices (just like the new ones we have right now), about whom the most that can be hoped is that they won’t be replacing any of the current conservative justices.
I admit that as a Washington resident of 28 years, I’ve never warmed up much to inaugurations, even the three “good” ones for the Bushes. Presidential inaugurations to me spell hype, traffic, and Alpine ranges of trash left behind on the Mall. But this one? I can’t even be bothered to check out the kind of shoes that Michelle wore with her red gown.