Saturday, January 17, 2009

A cautionary tale

The upcoming inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama has been on my mind in recent days, both as a citizen and as a TV critic.

In the latter capacity, I'll be writing about coverage of Tuesday's inauguration by broadcast and cable networks.

Every inauguration is a historic event, of course. Orderly transitions of power, in even the most challenging of times, are one of the hallmarks of our democracy. But there are extra layers of history in this inauguration.

Obama will be is this nation's first black president. On the day after the national holiday commemorating the life and career of civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he'll take the oath of office with his hand on a Bible also used by Abraham Lincoln in one of his inaugurations.

That history already was being discussed Saturday as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, the leading cable-news networks, offered blanket coverage of Obama's and Vice President-elect Joe Biden's train trip from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.

A little before noon Saturday, I broke away from the TV to make a quick trip to the corner store. I was in an aisle looking at replacement shoestrings when I overheard a conversation between two young employees in the next aisle over.

The young man and woman were both in their late teens or early 20s.

"Everybody is saying Obama is a socialist, but he's really a communist,'' the young man said.

"Yeah, I know,'' the young woman added. "This is really a dark time in our history, if you know what I mean.''

I waited a couple of seconds before poking my head around the corner to catch a glimpse of the two young people. For a moment, I thought about saying something to them. That young woman really needed a calling out on the "dark time'' crack. For whatever reason, I looked at them and walked away.

Back home, I resumed watching coverage of the train trip. The cameras panned across crowds gathered along the way. The people in those crowds were young, old, white, black and Hispanic. Some of them waved as the train passed. Many of them smiled.

Hours later, as I write this, I'm still thinking about the two young people in the store. Obama ran on a platform of change. What I heard those young people say demonstrates that some things never change.
David S. Glasier


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the young woman's "crack" about this being a dark time in our history because of Obama's election. One of those things that really never changes in American politics is that those in power use that power for the benefit of their particular group(s). A lot of us are very unhappy about what that is likely to mean in Obama's case. He himself has indicated that he is going to "spread the wealth around," and we know who he has in mind there. The Democrat takeover of Congress means he will probably have some measure of success in using the power of government to further his liberal agenda. After his judicial appointments have been completed, America will indeed enter a decades-long dark ages.

January 19, 2009 at 11:16 AM 

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