I am so happy, I am screaming at the TV set.
Good-bye, George and Laura. Get on that damned helicopter as fast as you can. Why not think about moving to Oklahoma, instead of Texas?
Hello, Barack and Michelle.
What the hell is Clarence Thomas doing up on that podium?
Don’t you know John Paul Stevens is breathing a great sigh of relief, knowing he can finally and safely retire from the Supreme Court in his late eighties?
Does W realize he and many of his administration’s “accomplishments” are being criticized in the inaugural speech? Oh, that’s right, he doesn’t care. History is going to vindicate him.
Is Karl Rove watching TV right now?
What’s going through Al Gore’s mind? How about Bill Clinton’s? And W’s? No, don’t answer the last question. Do not even bother.
Isn’t the music sublime?
Who do poets always have to go last?
Doesn’t the poor old war criminal Dick Cheney look sadly diminished in his wheelchair? What if somebody rolls him to the top of a flight of stairs and gives him a big push? That would be awful, wouldn’t it?
I sit in front of the TV with my husband (who’s busily analyzing the inaugural speech, but getting choked up occasionally) and my friend, Paula. I’m happy, I’m greatly relieved, I’m inspired by this historic day, I’m still angry about the past eight years, I’m realistically and cautiously hopeful about the next eight.
I’m thinking, too, of something oddly troubling that happened to me yesterday. I was waiting for a flight at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. I spoke for a few minutes with a young woman who was waiting for the same flight. She was a senior at the University of Texas.
We talked about the inauguration and the promise we both felt.
“The best man won,” she said. I agreed.
“I’m so glad Hillary didn’t get the nomination,” she said, shaking her head. “You know, women just aren’t equipped to be president. They’re too emotional.”
I told her I disagreed. But I didn’t say much more. She was a virtual stranger to me and she was young, as I said. But she was also black — and like many well-meaning, cowardly white liberals, I live in fear I’ll say something dumb and unintentionally racist around a black person. So I just smiled and wished her well.
But maybe it’s a new day. Maybe we’re talking to one another more frankly. Maybe, if something like this ever happens again, I’ll be able to say to her what I would have to a young white woman: “Honey, that’s pure, sexist bullshit — just drivel. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, a lot to learn about the world. I hope you’ll do it.”
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)