22 January, 2009

Barack Watch: Day 3--The Hope-ometer

I haven't read through a transcript yet, so I could be a little off, but I was keeping a running tally of how many times "hope," "change" or "yes, we can" were mentioned during the inauguration speeches. And I'm sorry to say that those who were expecting both "hope" and "change" were sadly disappointed.

Among the speakers, the word "hope" was mentioned only four times. Once by Diane Feinstein, and only three times by President Obama (it still feels funny, like the new Pope having one name instead of two). And two of those "hopes" came in the last :30 of his inaugural address.

"Change," was only mentioned twice, once (unless you count the fact that he said "changed" right before he said "change," in which case he said "change" twice") by Presi O. (just trying some other names out--seeing what fits) and once by Rev. Rick Warren in the inaugural "prayer"/speech.

(Oh, and as a side note, did anyone else feel like all of the other speakers were the warm-up acts--the comedian, the local garage band nobody cares about--that you had to sit through before the band you actually bought a ticket to see got on stage? Just a thought.)

The 42-year-old 44th president of the United States (who is seven months younger than Gabrielle Carteris, an original cast member of Beverly Hills 90210) said both "Yes, we will" and "We can," but did not repeat the phrase that became synonymous with his campaign. "Yes, we can" was only mentioned once, in the Rev. Joseph Lowery's benediction.

But these lack of recuring themes was one of the most exciting things about Obtimus Prime's (too much?) address. "Yes, we can" was his campaign slogan, his rallying cry. But he's not running for office anymore. "Yes we can?" "We did." (That is if you were among one of Obami O's [as you read this someone's currently copyrighting that to make a Captain Crunch flavored cereal] supporters--I for one wrote in Ted Lange, like I have since 1988.) And now the campaign is over. Now he's got a job to do that won't be solved with positive slogans or promises of "hope" and/or "change." But at least from his inaugural address I know he understand that. And that gives me hope after the crushing disappointment of my candidate losing yet another election.

Oh, and poet Elizabeth Alexander might have said any one of those phrases. I was watching, but at that point I'd pretty much tuned out. Maybe I felt a little bad, but at the same time, I just didn't care. I saw what I wanted to see,. And, I mean, do you put on a band after the Rolling Stones? I don't think so.

Oh, and I just read the subject of President Obama's first State of the Union Address: Positivity and Modifications.

(Ed. Note: The NY Times has a nifty app that allows you to see the number of times particular buzz words are used in Obama's speech - as well as the speeches of every American president since Washington.)

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