Tuesday, January 20, 2009

T.I.V. Tuesday

Happy New Year to all of you. Yes, the blog has been silent for more than a month, but that ends today. I've been reading your posts over the last 6 weeks, though not commenting, and that too will change.

4 years ago I spent Inauguration Day working in an office building just Lafayette Park away from the White House. I watched every second of the swearing-in ceremony, including the star-studded entertainment and the inaugural address. I could see the bleachers lining Pennsylvania Avenue from my office window and watched as President and Mrs. Bush walked the last few yards back home. That evening, I donned a ball gown and attended an official inaugural ball. It was a glorious day -- not just because I am a political junkie, but because I am a devotee of democracy and the Republic that is the United States of America.

Today, though thousands of miles from our nation's capital, and with a less than optimal view of the action, I am nevertheless carried away by the spectacle and history of this day. I can imagine the crush of the crowds, the palpable excitement, the anticipation of history being made and I long to be a part of it all. I look forward to Barack Obama's first address as our 44th President. I have hope in him and his ability to bring us together as a nation. I hope that he will not be defeated by the heavy expectations the nation and the world have for him. I am confident in his ability to succeed and anxious to watch his presidency unfold.

I cannot help but contrast today in America with last week in Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez, also a democratically elected leader who enjoys a 60% approval rating, who too brings throngs of people into the streets (though often in protest), who has brought sweeping change to his country, addressed his people in the Venezuelan equivalent of the State of the Union last week. All local programming was suspended to carry Chavez's address, much like in the US, but in this case it was not by choice -- the last television station that expressed opposition to Chavez was stripped of its ability to broadcast and forced to shut down. There was no pomp and circumstance, just a speech before the National Assembly that started at 2:00 pm (three hours after the scheduled start time) and lasted for...7 and a half hours!

Now, don't get me wrong, I like a good speech. I watch the State of the Union every year -- regardless of the speaker's political ideology. I've even read many from the past that I wasn't around for in person. I've read inaugural addresses of many past presidents as well, even the longest, given by William Henry Harrison in 1841. Harrison spoke for over 2 hours in the freezing March rain without an overcoat. He died just 31 days later from pneumonia. Historians say there was no connection between his speech and his death, but just to be safe no president since has ever come close to matching Harrison's record-breaking oration. I thought of Harrison last week and the dire consequences that followed on the heels of a much too long speech. For the record, I don't wish Chavez to meet an untimely demise just because he is long-winded, but it seems only fair that after nearly 8 hours of speaking without a single bathroom break, at the very least a painful urinary tract infection is in order.

God bless America on this day of days when we are able witness the peaceful transfer of power to a man who in one way or another we all participated in selecting. I for one am hoping that man keeps his speech stirring, yet brief.

21 comments:

Lindsey said...

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your hiatus. Hilarious story about the pneumonia. I have to go tell that to my hubby.

stephanie said...

I have missed you posts!

I am excited for Obama as president. I hope he meets Everyone's expectations. I think it is so cool that one day after MLK day we are witnessing Our first black president.

7 1/2 hours is way too long for any one to speak.

Annemarie said...

No matter how anyone voted it is a very cool day!!
I am very jealous that you got to go to an Inaugural Ball. Very jealous.

Welcome back!!!

diane said...

Welcome back to blogland.

Inaugural ball?! Seriously cool. I want to see pictures please.

two forks said...

i was totally wishing in was in dc today... not to be on the mall, but at my old station! ha ha.

Hazen5 said...

So glad you are Back!!!!

It was a exciting day, I made sure my kids were a witness to history.

Okay, I want to see what you wore to the Ball!!!

Annie said...

Yay, welcome back! I agree, pictures please!

Ilene said...

Ball gown sounds so Cinderella, you know?

It will be interesting to watch this new presidency. I wish him well but am not expecting him to turn water into wine like Oprah and friends.

Is it bad that I am sick of our new President because of Oprah and other celebrities?

Ilene said...

That being said, I really do hope that he does a great job. I sincerely do not wish him ill just to spite Oprah and friends.

bwebster said...

Linsey:

It was great having you guys come up to visit while you were in the States. Glad you made it back into Venezuela. Nice to have a maid again, eh? :-) ..bruce..

Lauren in GA said...

Welcome back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love that you are a, "political junkie" as you said!!

So neat that you got to attend the ball for President Bush. That is really neat! Do you have pictures?!

It was really neat to discuss with my kids yesterday all that this means for history.

: ) Paula said...

I wandered over from Shelley a.k.a. Maren's blog. My kids got to watch the events at school. They were so excited. A pundit yesterday was commenting on the ratio of black to white spectators. So I was excited to see you said you were there in 2004. How big was the crowd then compared to yesterday?

Christian said...

We had a freak snow day here so I was able to spend the day home with the kids watching All Things Obama. It was quite a day.

CStubits said...

Glad to have you back online! We spent the day glued to the tv (but at least I still get to say I was in DC for the occasion).

I did the ball circuit in 97 - got to go to four of them because of a friend with connections. It was fun, and amazing to hear the strains of "Hail to the Chief" and then realize you are in the same room as the president. But the parties themselves are pretty overrated. :)

Jenibelle said...

Welcome home Linsey!! I too, am a political junkie, big time. Loved all the pomp and circumstance and like you I hope that Obama doesn't get weighed down with the heavy hopes of America. I didn't vote for him, but I wish him and his family well. If he gives our country hope I'm good with that. I just hope he also inspires patriotism because when we are in a patriotic fervor, we behave better towards each other.

gab said...

Missed you! You have lived a full and exciting life. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Matthew said...

What I love about being in DC on Inauguration Day is that the city literally stops...and not just because half of the roads are closed, but because so many people are transfixed, either in person or electronically, by what is happening. Roads are empty, restaurants are quiet, and most of the city is impacted in some way. That doesn't happen everywhere. The feeling was palpable, even when watching from my warm apartment, on my comfy chair, with my baby on my lap. Glad to have you back in blogland, my friend.

Matthew said...

By the way, that last comment was me Cassidy, not Matt. Someday I'll learn to check which account is signed in. In the meantime, I'll keep posting these ridiculous corrections. I should just let you think it was Matt, but his writing voice would be much different that mine.

terahreu said...

What an interesting view. First Chavez, now Obama. I am sure the content of the addresses was quite different as well. I am all for being brief and it would seem that any good politician would feel the same. You can get yourself into a lot less trouble. 8 hours of false hopes and promises? People are going to remember that!

stephsidestory said...

What interesting facts about long-winded speeches. You never said if you watched Chavez's speech or not. I am guessing 'no' : )

AnnieB said...

Ha! Wonderfully well written and so interesting! You, my girl, have had a fulfilling life (inaugural ball? More info please) and what a cool thing to be experiencing the juxtaposition of these two democracies. 7 and 1/2 hours speech!! (what do you talk about for that long?? no potty?) and the threats to air or close shop--wild...and interesting. Glad you can record and share your experiences! I share your optimism of Obama!

 

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