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General News    H3'ed 1/21/09

Obama's Inauguration: the Hopes of a Nation, the Needs of an Empire

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Well there's people and more people
What do they know know know
Go to work in some high rise
And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico
Ooh yeah
And there's winners and there's losers
But they ain't no big deal
'Cause the simple man baby pays for the thrills, the bills,
the pills that kill

Ah but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me, Ooooh

-- John Mellancamp,  Pink Houses

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

-- Woody Guthrie, This Land is Your Land

Barack Hussein Obama is the new U.S. President. Bush and Cheney, looking awfully small and dyspeptic, Cheney especially since he was wheel-chair ridden, having thrown out his back while heaving boxes of ultra secret documents from the White House on his last day in office. Apparently, staffers couldn’t be trusted to move this stuff for the man who kept a safe as tall as a man in his office.

Millions came to watch, hundreds of millions glued to the TV,  to celebrate the end of the Bush/Cheney years - never a more richly deserved and so-long delayed good riddance to a despised regime - and the beginning of the administration of this “skinny black man with the funny name,” as Obama has called himself.

On the Sunday preceding Tuesday’s inauguration, a concert dubbed “We Are One” was held in front of the Lincoln Memorial, featuring headliners Bruce Springsteen, U2, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Beyonce, Rene Fleming, John Mellancamp, and so on.

Crafty 89-year old Pete Seeger, blacklisted during the 1950s and banned from TV for decades, accompanied by Springsteen, in a rousing finale, restored the original lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s ode to the American people. Mellancamp performed his “Pink Houses,” a sardonic look at the American experience for working people.

Perhaps even more than Tuesday’s events, the “We Are One” Sunday event illustrates the complicated terrain that Obama must negotiate. On the one hand, here are the hopes of a nation, perhaps never more elevated with this man who looks so “Other” compared to the outgoing gang and the forty-one other prior presidents (Grover Cleveland was president twice in non-consecutive terms), and never so much unalloyed joy evident in the faces of the people. The artists who performed for Obama on Sunday, some of whose own songs for the event underscore the differences they have with Obama, whether they know this now or not, will come to know this more sharply in the months and years to come, representing, as artists always do, the cutting edge of masses’ hopes and dreams that Obama has so skillfully parlayed into winning the presidency in this time of national crisis.

On the other hand, there are the needs of American Empire that Obama is charged by the people who really run things to preserve, protect and advance. If truth were to be revealed in deeds, the Presidential Oath of Office would say: “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear to preserve, protect and defend the American Empire.”

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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)
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