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January 26, 2009



doctor, I love your writeups on the inauguration and bad professor. I liked yoyo ma and the other virtuosos and am surprised you did not mention lowery who was the highlight for me, but I agree that warren and elizabeth whatshername were sappy. So... I wonder what you think about goethe's quote to the effect of "when you commit to a course of action the universe adjusts accordingly", or something like that. You've got a perspective on 18th C I'll never have. This has nothing to do with the inauguration, I'm just using the comment feature. Or maybe it does.

Otis Jefferson Brown

Nowadays when someone dies at age 70 we think, "So young. Too bad he/she didn't live another 15 years." The four historic U.S. inaugurations have been Washington (1789), Lincoln (1861), FDR (1933) and Obama (2009) - four inaugurations separated by roughly 70 years. Three relatively short lifetimes, that's how young this country is. In 1789 there was no nation, no legal/constitutional precedent for anything. In 1861 there was still slavery, and women couldn't vote. In 1933 there was neither Social Security nor any safety net to speak of. Who knows what changes the next 70 years will bring?

The glow of nostalgia surrounding JFK's inaugural address in 1961 is historical revisionism at its most myopic. I remember the acute disappointment felt by liberals. JFK made only passing reference to civil rights. His was mainly a cold-war speech, designed to show - in the post-McCarthy age - that young liberal Democrats could be as tough on the Reds as old conservative Republicans. The result was the Vietnam debacle.

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