So far, all the omens are good for the Obama presidency:
1. Dick Cheney had to attend the inauguration in a wheelchair.
2. Ted Kennedy had a seizure at a post-inaugural luncheon.
3. Obama has put a “freeze” on all pending regulations. (It'd sure be nice if he'd put a freeze on all regulation, period – but I guess that's too much to hope for.)
4. Tons of peanut butter – a symbol of the Old South if there ever was one – are being recalled.
5. And best of all, not a peep has been heard from the traditional “black leadership” -- you know, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and all the other race-hustling, victimization-preaching, reparations-demanding crew that has kept black Americans tied to the racism “meme” for so many decades now. The best thing about the Obama presidency is that it has pretty much taken the wind out of their sails – and that can only be good news, for blacks, whites, whoever. The civil rights movement which dated from just after the Civil War had plenty of legitimacy on its side, and its demands for justice and equal treatment were perfectly reasonable. But once most of its goals were met – at least in the strictly legal, if not social/cultural, sense – it became more of a crutch and a full employment act for all sorts of hustlers, con artists, and extortionists, of which Jackson and Sharpton are the leading examples. Now that we have a black president, it's obvious that many of their chronic gripes no longer have any validity. Can we expect them to finally shut up and retire from the public scene? No. But will they continue to have a monopoly on representing black Americans? Not with one as president! And will they ever be taken as seriously again? One surely hopes not. This alone is a huge contribution to the “plus” side of the scale which is already starting to be used to weigh the Obama Era.
On the other hand, according to a headline on MSN, the “honeymoon is over” because of a fairly large (even by current standards) fall in stock prices. Over?? After only a few hours?? Wow – that sure isn't the way it used to be. But don't worry, we'll still have the media propping things up, although I wonder what Keith Olbermann is going to do without Bush? Probably the same thing Rush Limbaugh did without Clinton. Personally, I'm going to miss K.O.'s nightly "Bushhhhed" segment. Maybe it'll go into reruns, who knows?
But as to the “old guard” -- of which Kennedy and Cheney are the ultimate symbols – it really does seem to be passing away, and that can't be anything but good. Of course, the Obama administration is already terminally polluted with Clinton retreads, but they can't exactly be accused of being “old guard”. But they aren't “new guard” either, because, basically, there is no “new guard” other than Obama himself. So call them “medium guard”, and let's hope they're amenable to at least a few new and/or sensible ideas. Actually, it's hard to figure out exactly what the Democrats want these days. The old South/black/labor coalition is long gone, and has been replaced by – if the Clinton administration was any indication – a bunch of cynical power junkies with, really, no “ideas” to speak of, just towering ambition. I don't think one genuine “idea” passed through Bill Clinton's head for the entire eight years he was president; for him, just being president was enough. It was, as many people have pointed out, a “vacation from history”. But then along came Bush, and 9-11, and we waded back into world affairs with guns blazing – but still no ideas, not really, just a bunch of bromides and buzzwords. And actually, most of what we've heard from Obama since the campaign began has been vapid – Irish bookies were taking bets on which cliché he would use first in his inauguration speech! But maybe now that he's in office he'll get down to some serious work, and we won't have to put up with either another Clinton-style Club Med vacation, or a Bush-style gang war.
That's my own “audacity of hope”, anyway.