Two million people at the National Mall in Washington alone. The world watched too as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. So did I. I rudely cut roomie's soap operas and switched to CNN to witness history being created. Some day I may live to tell the tale of how Barack, the much touted Afro-American President of the United States, stumbled with his swearing-in oath.

I was a bit disappointed as I watched the man who had run the most successful of election campaigns, the man who Americans were pinning their hopes on, take his oath. Clearly, he was under too much of a pressure to be the best. So before Chief Justice John Roberts could complete the first sentence, there was Obama abruptly breaking out into his first names... "I Barack Hussein Obama.." and then waited for the judge to complete the sentence.. The next line was even taxing. He stopped short after two words... "That I will excute..." and then Justice Roberts continued "That I will execute faithfully the office of president to the United States..." But Obama did not get it right, however correct he was as he rhymed .."The office of president of the United States faithfully..." Oh No, I thought, the whole world is watching and he shouldn't go wrong. But then on second thoughts, a little bit of imperfection is admirable in a competent man.

And then the inaugural speech. Journalists were trying to decipher the finer sentiments in what Obama said. I listened with rapt attention to a man who is compared to Abraham Lincoln and other greats. The poignancy was only towards the end in this bit:

So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have travelled.In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by nine campfires on the shores of an icy river.The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.

Save this,the rest of his speech lacked anecdotes and was largely an impersonal one, and stressed too much on equality, layered with Afro-American hues. It was as if Obama was crying out to be known that he the Afro-American has arrived and that justice will pervail upon America. It was as if America did not embrace the ideals of equality and justice to the hilt and that he was going to change things. Every country has had its own journey, its own history, its own evolvement as a nation and he happened to be at the right time and right place. The rest of his speech had all the diplomatic platitudes. So, in other words, I wasn't greatly moved the way I was when John McCain gave his losing speech at the end of the American polls. That was a straight from the heart talk. Never mind his pre-poll idiosyncracies.

But I watched the rest of the scene and I wished I was at Capitol Hill as I saw the first lady and second ladies in their top gear and fineries. I thought it must be so frustrating for the millions having to watch it all from a screen. So near yet so far.

Comparing to swearing-ins back in India, I think the American style is so cool. Poetry, Rock concerts, Balls -- they all add up to a perfect celebration. I heard Obama attended 10 inaugural balls in Washington last night. I can't imagine the common pot bellied Indian politicians doing a jig with their saree clad wives. Or even giving their wives a peck on the cheek or walking hand in hand. Michelle Obama does compliment her husband and I am a wee bit jealous. O-B-A-M-A!!!


Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone thinks Obama stumbled. On the contrary it was the Chief Justice who stumbled. Obama I am sure had practiced and perfected his line but when the Chief Justice said 'I will execute' instead of 'I will faithfully execute' that Obama probably thought the Chief Justice had another version.If you watch it carefully the Chief Justice then correctly says 'I will faithfully execute'. BTW it seems the Chief Justice did apologize for the mess up during the luncheon. What I found surprising was how people were so quick to blame Obama. I guess people do judge leaders in a knee jerk fashion more often than not.

Also I thought his speech was pretty good given the condition of the economy. I thought it was pragmatic and appropriate and not one of those flowery 'Yes we can' speech. I thought the best lines were Rev.Joseph Lowery the 87 year old civil rights pioneer who ended with

“We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around …”

“When yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.”

Anonymous said...

Read this Story about Obama helping out a Stranger way before he became famous. It gives me hope and I feel he is the the real mccoy.He was born to be the President and I really do believe that he will bring about change for the better.

Anonymous said...

Have you really never ever helped a stranger? That's sad...and if thats indicative of the majority of Americans, then I'm glad that at least you have a President who can bring change by helping strangers

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Clearly Obama and what he (poses to) represent(s) is a matter of great sensitivity to a enormous number of people, even beyond America. And so these faithful and avid supporters shall not be daunted by a stumbling block! However any flaw (and this being an apparently fatal one) becomes all the more obvious if ,as in this case, Obama has a perfect public persona while it does make the man endearing.

Apparently, TECHNICALLY, I heard, Obama isn't d president of the US as yet since he didn't repeat the sacroscant oath verbatim n now has to take the oath again before entering d white house!!
Wow between rhetoric and reality, the former wins hands down i guess.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous,

It's not about me helping or Americans in generally helping strangers. It's about being fortunate to have a leader who the common folks can identify with. Most leaders are perceived as out of touch as the previous president was but in the new president we have someone who has integrity,intelligence and the eloquence to get his message across. It doesn't matter which country you are from.One can consider themselves proud to have such a leader.

Anonymous said...

Hi Indira... nice post. But in the last para, you imagine our politicians against theirs. Don't you think, as a diverse body, India has to evolve so much more? We are still a young nation. In comparison, the US of A is more than 300 years old.

I am hopeful that our people will figure out the apt leaders they want in the decades to come. It may sound naive, but I really feel that too many of us compare us with evolved nations. It is an unfair comparison between two nations, robbed at different times by the same Imperialists.

- Kun Kun

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous 1,
dont all politicians have a public service record? and what is "integrity, intelligence and the eloquence" if you cant deliver in the face of recession? it's a wait and watch game before you make your next prediction.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2,

I didn't realize you are one of those who put all their faith in one person. First of all , Obama is not God or a Messiah. He is just a President and a good one with the right temperament who will need to work collectively with his team to get the country out of recession. Only a fool would believe that the President has the magic bullet to solve all issues.My point is I would rather have someone like him as President in these difficult times than someone like Bush or McCain.

Shanti Thokchom said...!!He has really tapped into the FACEBOOK generation and is a real damn good speaker !! We hope to see him do well!! Of course,he has has so many advisors around him!! I have my doubts if the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can really make him function independently as they all know he is inexperienced!! We are all waiting to see if he can change the ways of DC!!He has not been a senator long enough there to know the insides of it!! But he does come from Chicago and its politics are quite well known!! Lets all give him the support that he needs for his presidency!! He seems pretty cocky and sure about everything!! and riding on a high public opinion right now!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you mean by he does come from Chicago. Are you insinuating that he would be as corrupt as most Chicago politicians ?

That is stereotyping and on that same token someone can also say that since you come from India you probably lack civic sense and will always be late for meetings or work.As for inexperience remember most great Presidents like Abe Lincoln and JFK were rookies too but because of their ability to communicate to the people and their sheer natural leadership skills they went on the become great Presidents. I think people should just cut Obama some slack and let him settle down. I am confident he will be a good leader..

Shanti Thokchom said...

hey,Indi,who is this anonymous bloke commentator of yours? Doesn't he/she have the balls to come out in the open and talk?why does he hide always?Isn't he/she good friend or just a random peron..Just curious!! Anyway,I just love reading your blog.Its real good..!!Write more and keep it updated!!

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