I WATCHED THE PRESEDENTIAL INAUGURATION......on CBC Newsworld, since CNN was doing some annoying split-screen thing (or, rather, multi-window thing) with what I think was meant to be a roundtable char with "ordinary Americans" discussing how they feel about the inauguration, and one woman was saying how she probably wouldn't be watching as she would be at work. But she wasn't at work, she was at a roundtable at CNN. So she skipped work on the day of the inauguration to go on CNN to talk about how she can't skip work on the day of the inauguration... that doesn't make sense!
I might have gone upstairs to watch it on Fox News on the television in our living room, the only TV in the house with the digital cable stations (including Fox News), and it's damn cold out in Ottawa and I don't like leaving the coziness of the carpeted basement except to eat and sleep. (I hope that it's warmer next week, because I want to go downtown and see if I can make an appointment to see a job counsellor of some sort.)
Anyway, I got down in time to see both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush take their oaths of inauguration.
"George W. Bush began his second term Thursday with promises to bringing freedom and liberty to the oppressed corners of the world.
“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know [that] the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors,” he told a vast crowd at the Capitol, in Washington. “When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”
Ignoring worries that deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and other spots are stretching U.S. forces to the limit, Mr. Bush spelled out the aggressive foreign goal of holding dictators to account.
“It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,” he said.
“... America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.”
Mr. Bush did not mention any countries by name, although he has many times lumped North Korea and Iran into a so-called “Axis of Evil” with Iraq, which U.S. troops invaded nearly two years ago. Saddam Hussein was duly toppled but the occupation proved more difficult than planners had anticipated; about 150,000 foreign troops, mostly American, remain stationed in Iraq as the country lurched toward its first legitimate election."
I don't have much to say about Bush's speech... it was a typical inauguration speech, somewhat inspirational. It's one of those things that, if I don't have anything to add, I'm not going to add to it just for the sake of registering an opinion. It speaks for itself. I liked the following bits.
"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause."
"Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it."
"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country."
"From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world."
I;m afraid that one thing I kept on getting distracted by was the carpet on the stairs of the grandstand behind Bush. I think the deal with it was that the centre of it was blue, to provide a background that looks good on television, but the edges are red, so you can technically call it a "red carpet", as Bush and Cheney and the former presidents and Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and others are dignitaries. For some reason, I just found it distracting as hell whenever the camera panned slightly to the right or left and you got that little ribbon of red. The carpet should just be completely blue in the areas where it's a backdrop of television.
I was disappointed that I don't think they had a Marine singing "God Bless America" this time around. For some reason, I miss that. They had "God Bless America" on the first inauguration I ever watched live, Bush Sr.'s in 1989, so I assumed that it was a fixed part of the ceremony. Or maybe they had it and I just got up too late, but I can't find it mentioned in any articles about the inauguration. Oh well.
This being Newsworld, after the ceremony was over, they cut to the protest, and I don't know if it was just that all of the impressive protestors were mugging for Fox's and CNN's cameras, but the protestors behind the reporter on Newsworld seemed to be very low-rent. One of them had what seemed to be an unfolded cardboard box with some message that was way too long for a soundbite, something about "re-thinking patriotism", and then another one had "Bush Sucks" written in nearly inlegible outline letters. Look, if you're going to show your worthless little protest signs on television, at least take twenty minutes and colour the letters in, because that Sharpie might seem thick when you're writing with it, but, unless it's really, really close to the camera, the line will only be only a vertical line or two wide on most NTSC televisions (I'd say "pixel", but that's more a computer monitor term), and, furthermore, if the background is white card, the overexposure effect will further shrink the line.
Anyway, I'm happy that those fighter jets over Washington are still "my planes" now. We'll they're not really "my planes", since I'm not an American citizen and didn't vote Republican, but if I was and had, those would be "my planes". (For people that don't get the reference, actor Ron Silver, at the Clinton inauguration in 1993, was troubled by the display of American military strength until someone pointed out to him that "Those are our planes now", even though they always had been his planes, no matter which party's candidate was in the White House. I can't believe the very same actor would be speaking at the Republican National Convention nearly 12 years later, but 9/11 changed him a lot.)