Earlier today Washington DC sprung into celebration as the “We Are One” concert began the inaugural festivities for President-Elect Barack Obama. Since HBO went “free” during the show (and replays), I was able to watch the show – and, for the most part, I enjoyed it.
Bruce Springsteen did a great job of opening the show with his 2001 hit, The Rising, and Beyonce tore the house down with her rendition of America the Beautiful. I also enjoyed the Garth Brooks set with American Pie and Shout. Usher did a good job with Shakira and Herbie Hancock and I thought Josh Grobin performed like the vocal master that he has come to be.
The U2 performance, on the other hand, was marred for me by Bono’s ridiculous overselling each and every chorus. Good grief! Have you ever seen the episode of South Park called “Smug Alert!?” This is the one where some folks go around getting hybrid cars and act like their crap doesn’t stink. I think that South Park got that idea off of watching Bono. With the way this guy bops around the stage and makes love to his songs as he sings them you’d think he was single-handedly saving the world with each note! But even Bono couldn’t bring down the high spirits that were running throughout the concert.
Barack Obama’s message during the concert was a good one, too. Before the concert ended, Obama said the following:
I won’t pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.
That’s right! I’m as happy as the next guy that we have a new President coming in, but I do not look at him as a cure-all for the nation’s problems. Look, people, President-Elect Obama is stepping into the Presidency at a horrendous time in our nation’s history. With two wars abroad and a shaky economy at home – we, as a country, need to roll our sleeves up and start getting to work. But heed Obama’s words above: this will not take a day, a week, a month, or even one year. We have long-term problems that require long-term solutions. I just hope that we don’t see another President destroyed by a media which is fueled by fanatics who want to see results immediately.
While the concert was inspiring I do take issue with the theme of the show being “We Are One.” Actually, let me be more specific. I don’t take issue with that theme, per se, rather I’m disappointed in anyone who is living in this country and did not believe that we were one before Obama won the election. Frankly, anyone who believed that we were a divided country or a country set apart in dozens of fractures either believes the bullshit they see on television or is completely out of touch with the people around them. All anyone ever had to do was talk to a neighbor or a coworker or a classmate to see that we all share the same problems – regardless of race, religion, gender, age, etc.
So while the concert was tremendously uplifting and a great way to kick off the inaugural festivities, I couldn’t help but being disappointed by some of the celebrities and entertainers who sounded as if they were waking up in a brand new America. Maybe Obama has given these people the hope that many of us already had from living in the best country in the history of the world. If that’s the case, then I welcome these people to the reality that we’ve all been living in. However, if they were simultaneously celebrating the arrival of one President and the departure of another, then I think it’s sad that they allowed one man to ruin their view of their nation.
Many of us grew weary of the outgoing administration; but we never stopped loving our country or believing that we were one with our countrymen. Let’s hope that those who are beginning to love their country for the first time or who are reigniting their love of the United States are not so fickle with these emotions now that we are all “one.”