I’m watching as Obama and his entourage make their way by train from Philadelphia to Washington; he is taking the same trip that Lincoln took aboard a vintage railway car. Thousands of people line the tracks and wait excitedly at every stop. His speeches are eloquent and filled with historical references. He reminds us of the founders and their dream of perfecting our union. It is theater and it is very effective. At one stop the Mayor of Baltimore mentions that one President will be leaving and it gets an enormous cheer. I second that emotion. Then Obama comes out to thunderous applause.
It is an historic moment. Watching the people along the way, the people who are waiting in Washington, the hope on their faces and in their words makes me cry. Yes, I am getting emotional about this. And yes, I think that Obama is exceptional. You hear phrases bandied about like “paradigm shift,” “defining moment,” Obama’s heralding a new way of life for Washington, and I hope so much that Obama doesn’t become “The Man.” Is it too much to put on one man’s shoulders?
So far Obama has done something different from everyone who came before. I cannot imagine another President having dinner with all the conservative journalists who delight in maligning him, or hosting a dinner for his opponent as a part of the inaugural events. Can he keep this momentum going? Can he possibly live up to the expectations?
The mood is so hopeful. Even the Republicans are mostly hopeful, or so the polls are saying. Of course, after W, we are all expecting something better – not really that hard a job. I am looking forward to the coming days in a way I have not felt in years. Please let this spirit last. Please let his vision infect others. Please don’t let things go back to the way they were. If I were a praying sort, I would ask for a miracle. I’ll cross my fingers.