Just for the heck of it, I applied for a credential to yesterday’s Inauguration of President Barack Obama. I didn’t expect to get one because a conversation with the Senate Press Gallery folks gave me the “we have folks from all over the world applying for credentials” line.
Much to my surprise, I got it. I have pictures posted on my Facebook page in addition to the one that is attached to this post.
But being a part of history, while mostly a good thing, isn’t always easy.
I found that out at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning when my alarm went off at my friend Brian’s house in Washington, D.C. He was kind enough to let me crash on his couch while I was in town covering the inauguration.
Waking up at 4:30 a.m. doesn’t make me a happy camper. I’m not a morning person. I’m especially not a morning person when it comes to hopping onto a filled-to-capacity Metro train with hundreds of thousands of other people and being pushed by what Brian refers to as “tour-ons” (a combination of “tourist” and “moron”) being searched and x-rayed, and then sitting out in a field on a 20-degree winter morning.
However, Brian wasn’t trying to hear me complain about this because, as he so eloquently put it, “You’re going to see history. Stop bitchin’!”
Since the nature of my and Brian’s relationship is such that we can say really rude things like that to each other and still remain friends, I took his advice in the spirit in which it was offered.
And to be honest, he had a good point. Why complain about the fact that you’re going out into an open air icebox when you know that the stuff you’ll be writing will be part of the historical record detailing the inauguration of the nation’s first president of color?
I still have my ticket, which placed me in Section 8, front row, right in front of the Capitol building. I was the last seat on the right. Don’t worry. You didn’t miss me on television. Believe it or not, I had better seats than Halle Berry and Russell Simmons, but not as good of seats as Bruce Springsteen, Oprah, Samuel L. Jackson, or Diddy, Beyonce or Jay-Z. It was okay, though. I could still see stuff.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have applied for the credential. I’m not real big on crowds these days. I’m especially not real big on crowds of 2 million people who could (or could not) be in a good mood depending on the turns that the weather takes. And I’m really not trying to be in a crowd where some knucklehead from a white supremacist group could decide that he wants to make his bones by taking out the first African American president. (Even though Brian, who works for Homeland Security, says that would have been impossible.)
But I wanted to follow this story to the end.
However, it’s not really the end, is it? The fun part is just beginning for the new Head Dude. Let’s face it. Former President George W. Bush has left Barack Obama the equivalent of a giftwrapped box of flaming shit in front of the White House to deal with.
So the question becomes: What are you gonna do now? We’ve had hints during the transition, but now those hints must become policy and that policy must become action. What kind of honeymoon is Obama going to get and how long will it last? Will he be judged for your good and bad deeds as just another “president” or will every assessment of him include the word “black” as a cudgel.
And what about Michelle, Malia and Sasha? Unlike the 90s when Bill and Hillary Clinton were able to keep the media somewhat at bay so that Chelsea could have something resembling a normal life, the Paparazzi age is here. Is Marian Robinson going to have to get all “Black Grandmama” on somebody for harassing her grandkids (and you know it’ll happen.)Will Michelle shoot some reporter the same “Black Mama Look” that she shot Hillary Clinton during the Democratic National Convention?
The next 100 days are going to be interesting to watch on a couple of levels. However, if the look that Obama had on his face prior to being sworn in is any indication, I think he can handle it.
Now how did he look? He looked cool. Really cool. The kind of cool that says “I’ve got this, people. We’re going to be all right.”
Considering the mess he inherits, it’s a cool he’s going to need. I hope he’s able to maintain it.