Over the weekend, I got to see the Boss and the artist formerly known as “Cougar” perform for President Obama at the Lincoln Memorial. Tom Hanks, fresh from calling Mormon supporters of traditional marriage “un-American,” held forth on the story of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Jack Black and Steve Carrell delivered strikingly un-funny (but interesting) orations on the thoughts of Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. U2 performed “Pride” after being introduced by Samuel L. Jackson. It was a terrific afternoon.
Bishop Eugene Robinson, the cleric who convinced millions of Episcopalians worldwide that their church had given up on Christianity, delivered a very insightful invocation, reminding Obama’s gathered followers that he is “not the Messiah.” But they did not believe him. Nor did they believe even Obama himself when he cautioned that “Change” will not come right away:
I won’t pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.
Forget what the economists say. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe that Obama can save us, that the economy will improve during his first year in office. Sixty-five percent believe that unemployment will fall. Obama may become the last victim of his own hype.
Washington has become one huge party this week–you can’t catch a cab, and don’t even think about bringing your car downtown. In the spirit of the celebration, Congress will soon pass an $825 billion package that funds museums and waterslides and does little for the businesses that make the economy work. I cannot pretend I’m not enjoying the crowds or the debauchery, but I already fear the hangover. The joy! The excitement! The misplaced optimism.