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Rekindle the Spirit With Inauguration

By John Fox · January 14th, 2009 · Editorial

Inauguration Day is finally upon us, fittingly coming at the end of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Given the anticipation so many of us have about Barack Obama’s presidency, Tuesday truly will be the Day the Earth Stood Still.

It’s easy to be jaded about Tuesday’s significance, since it feels like Obama has been running for president forever. We got over his uniqueness and gave up being impressed by his oratory months ago.

Do we still have the energy to get excited one more time about Barack Obama becoming the President of the United States? I say we should try.

When CityBeat endorsed Obama for president, we noted the criticism of his lack of executive experience but praised his management of the big picture atop a two-year-long 50state campaign organization, saying it bodes well for his ability to lead the country. Nothing he’s done since Election Day has changed that opinion.

Obama has conducted himself professionally through the transition period, holding regular news conferences to announce cabinet members and appearing more presidential than President Bush.

Actually, between the drawn-out campaign and his almost daily news briefings, it’s like Obama already is president. Which makes Tuesday even more important, because that’s when the fantasy finally becomes reality and he takes the oath of office.

The torch will be passed to a new generation, as Obama becomes the first Baby Boomer/Gen X president who came of age after the 1960s. His biracial background, his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia and his community work in Chicago all signify a historic break with the career politicians he’s succeeding.

For once Americans didn’t have to refight the battles of the ’60s in this campaign. We didn’t hear about Reagan’s conservative reign as California governor, Dan Quayle’s condemnation of ’60s morals, Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s draft dodging, Al Gore’s cushy service in Vietnam or John Kerry’s dual history as war hero and war protester.

The ’60s are over, once and for all, and thankfully the liberals won. The U.S. is a much better place for the work done in that decade (and since) to define civil rights for African Americans, women, the poor and children, and we live in a more open, tolerant and fun society as a result.

Obama wouldn’t have a chance in hell of running for president, much less actually winning, if the ’60s hadn’t rolled out like they did. So let’s move on and focus our energies on a different decade — I suggest the upcoming one.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate Inauguration Day, there are plenty of opportunities around town, starting with watch parties at Cincinnati Museum Center and the Freedom Center. Attend two of the big local shindigs that night in Northside. Check out the details here.

Take a moment Tuesday to reflect on the day’s significance. Obama deserves to celebrate, and so do you.

CONTACT JOHN FOX: jfox@citybeat.com