Why can't we American's just keep things simple? You know, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet, No. 2 pencils, just taking the Oath, a simple Swearing In.
I guess it's not that... simple. Instead, we like display, even in our leaders. And this ostentation has me waxing sardonic.
Much has already been made about the celebrity of President Elect Barack Obama. We have commemorative dinnerware extolling his beatific smile and comforting eyes. There have been efforts to color him as the next JFK or FDR or, in some circles, Messiah. It seems rather he's settled on Abraham Lincoln. He's eaten Abe's lunch, will Amtrak his route, swear on his Bible, and post-Oath will attend a viewing of the theater production of "Our Kenyan Cousin". Well, maybe not that.
The activities surrounding Obama's Inauguration are myriad. The spirit preceding the events sounds more like a worship service than a matter of national business. There are "spiritual" leaders involved representing a uniting "Global Ecumenical" front such as the Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren, Wahhabist Ingrid Mattson, and Reverend V. Gene Robinson. Too bad Charlton "from my cold, dead hands" Heston passed less than a year ago. He would have rounded out the inclusive circle by representing the Jewish religion as Judah Ben-Hur and had Obama swear the Oath on a chiseled tablet instead. Also missing will be Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
There will be much music making. The list of performers is formidable. Listen to the make-up of this purpose-built national "choir" commissioned just for this event -
Beyonce, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Josh Groban, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, James Taylor, Will.i.a.m, Stevie Wonder, Renee Fleming, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley and Jennifer Nettles. Herbie Hancock but no Afrika Bambaataa?
I need to stop here momentarily. I'm sure we're all for a good time and whatnot but where's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to represent the Judeo-Christian aspect? I want representation! Where's the inclusiveness as with the "spiritual leaders"? On the other hand, at least Obama doesn't have the group "Wahhabi's Grateful Dead" on stage giving their unique rendition of Blues for Allah.
Seriously, how the heck is Obama going to even have the time to take the Oath, let alone speak? Also adding their gravitas to the festivities will be Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah, and Denzel Washington reading historical passages, while Reverend V. Gene Robinson gives the invocation.
To emphasize Obama's channeling of Honest Abe the days-long party kicked off at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday, January 18th. It continues at least through the Swearing In at 12 noon sharp on Tuesday, January 20th, 1861, uh, 2009. I'm sure that his first address to the nation following the Oath of Office will begin, "Three score and 18 days ago the enlightened people of our 57 great states chose Change. I'm honored to represent that change... and Abe, too."
Simplicity is the "Change" we need. There's no need to turn the Oath of Office into a liturgical event. Isn't it enough that we'll be witnesses at The Mount of Transfig... er, the Taking of the Oath? A harmonious ending to this rapture would be for Obama Abe to step back on the train that brought him and ride off into the sunset.
Troy "Freeman" Nelson is a freelance writer with experience in the field of finance as an advisor and manager.