go ahead, stay asleep…

Posted on Friday 30 January 2009


Wake Us When It’s Over
From the Scrapbook

THE SCRAPBOOK finds itself in a minority of one here, but we’ll say it anyway: We thought Barack Obama’s inaugural address was surprisingly mediocre. Not as painful to listen to as Elizabeth Alexander’s banal inaugural poem, or Joseph Lowery’s embarrassing benediction ("when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man"?). But we’re willing to wager that, a generation from now, schoolchildren won’t be memorizing its memorable passages.

That’s because there weren’t any. It sounded like an address by the class valedictorian, the work of an inspired 27-year-old, augmented with suggestions from perennial hacks like Theodore Sorenson and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Which is exactly what it was. There were the usual soaring banalities ("Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real"), meaningless pronouncements ("We will restore science to its rightful place"), excruciating images ("We have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation"), obvious clichés ("For the world has changed, and we must change with it"), Hallmark moments ("America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity") and the wisdom of motivational speakers ("We understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned"). But there was very little ice cream beneath the topping.

It was also singularly ungracious in tone, intent on establishing Barack Obama’s moral superiority over George W. Bush, and consciously misrepresenting the last eight years of history. It was sonorous, of course, and …

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Aw shucks. I really was engrossed in this unpredictable and gracious article. I wanted to hear how it ended. But I was thinking more about the title than the article itself – "Wake Us When It’s Over. Who is "us." Who would you like us to awaken when "it" is over? Which "it" are they talking about?

I expect that "us" are the neoconservatives that haunt the halls of The Weekly Standard. And I would guess that the real "it" would be the Obama Administration and the Ascendancy of the Democrats. I would respond, "Go ahead. Stay asleep." And I would remind the author[s] that the term "usual soaring banalities" would be better applied to 43 than 44. And about Joseph Lowery, I preferred Jon Stewart’s description, "America’s most adorable Civil Rights icon."
    January 30, 2009 | 11:19 AM

    Now that William Kristol will no longer be taxed to come up with some drivel for his New York Times weekly column, from which he was fired last week, I thought perhaps he would try to use his editoral position at The Weekly Standard to revitalize conservatism. But, no, they’re going to sleep through the next 8 years.

    It’s just as well. Has Kristol ever been right in his predictions? On everything from WMD to Sarah Palin he has turned out to be wrong, often egregiously so.

    Why anyone still listens to him is a mystery. Oh, I forget. In the conservative world, being right isn’t what’s important. Telling the base what they want to hear is what matters. But Rush Limbaugh has the market on that, doesn’t he? Yes, but Kristol was the conservative intellectuals’ answer to Rush. He wasn’t so crass and bombastic. Just wrong, but he said it nicely.

    So what’s poor Bill to do? Maybe he can be dear Sarah’s campaign adviser. He championed her selection as VP long before she was more than a gleam in McCain’s eye. And even after the loss, he’s proclaiming her the future of the party. Ah, well.

    That’s good, I guess, given that he’s always wrong.

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