USA 2.0

Yesterday, our country inaugurated its 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. Borrowing from the buzzword du jour, I’ve taken to calling the country under this new President “USA 2.0.” Kinda catchy, don’t you think?

Image credit: Jim Young/Reuters President Obama takes the oath of office

I was at work during the Inauguration, but my colleagues and I didn’t want to miss watching the official ceremony, so we gathered in our computer training lab and watched it the big projector via CNN.com. Aside from the unexpected reboot after the Windows Vista machine hosting the video installed a critical security update, it worked like a charm.

Like the majority of Americans, I was overjoyed to see this historic day come for a number of reasons. I voted for President Obama, so was pleased to see him ascend to the office. Of course, as the first person of African heritage to earn the “highest office of the land,” he obviously represents an important step in the evolution of our country’s culture. But even more importantly, his administration represents a much needed opportunity to reboot ourselves in the eyes of the world.

What’s really special about Inauguration Day is how it brings us all together. Seldom do Americans drop our cynical political biases and just embrace our collective patriotism; aside from the annual Independence Day holiday, an Inauguration Day once every four years seems to be about the best we can muster.

I’m not going to pretend that this is the moment that racial equality has finally been realized in our country; obviously, we still have a long way to go. Regardless of the outcome of this election, the fact is that most people are acutely aware of Obama’s heritage, and that played a huge part in the process. Some voted for him exclusively because of his ethnicity, while others used it as a veiled platform for attacking his background, his associations, and his commitment to our country’s interests. No matter how we see each other, we see physical differences that have nothing to do with character, and those differences do still influence our judgments and actions. Obama certainly didn’t deserve to win the election because of his African heritage; I’m being honest, I think he actually managed to get elected in spite of it.

Our new President is young and he is an idealist, but his brand of idealism is something that’s sorely lacking in our country at the moment. Maybe it’s my doe-eyed optimism, but everything seems different this time around. From the successful campaign he ran, to his swift and decisive transition, to the dignity with which he assumed the mantle of leadership, Obama is a breath of fresh air for a country and culture that has been suffocated by a short-sighted, power-hungry, and generally ineffective administration for almost a decade.

Where Bush’s White House was walled away from the public, I see Obama’s administration taking proactive steps to reach out, both to this country’s citizens and the rest of the world. I like that he views the US as a leader, but a “nation among nations” and not a “nation above nations.” Instead of a bunch of “yes men,” he’s chosen surrounded himself with the right people to ensure an honest discourse to chart our course and make progress. Plus, he seems genuinely intelligent guy who’s already very comfortable in his new role. His charisma, ingenuity, and tech savvy are unmistakable. It feels like this country has finally found the right CEO.

I suspect that like others before him, President Obama’s campaign ambitions will be curbed by the stark reality of the responsibilities that he has just inherited. He’ll have to make tough choices with no clear winners, and his accomplishments will likely fall short of everyone’s expectations. But for now, there’s the potential that anything can happen, and that’s really exciting to me.

Finally, a shameless plug for a Microsoft product. CNN encouraged Inauguration attendees to snap as many pictures as possible and then submit them to themoment@cnn.com. Their staff is feeding the content into Microsoft PhotoSynth to create a “synth” of the moment, which is a patchwork of individual digital images stitched into a 3D model of the subject. The cool thing about this technology is that the more photos it incorporates, the more “synthy” it becomes. You can check out the current version of the synth at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/44.president/inauguration/themoment/.

– Greg

Windows Live Tags: Politics, Inauguration, Obama, History

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8 thoughts on “USA 2.0

  1. Even though I did not vote for President Obama, I respect the office and his obtaining it. Yesterday as you say Greg was great, a true historical moment that will be revisited for hundreds of years. My only (And it truly is my only) Disappointment? Was his speech.Through his 2 years of campaigning I felt that President Obama was one of the most Eloquent and attention grabbing speakers I had ever listened to. But yesterday at the inauguration? Let down.The grandeur of the day may live in history, the speech is all ready forgotten.

  2. Did you read his speech, or hear it, Greg? I read it online while on the Fox site I blogged about. It was on there in full. The speech must be well respected for it to have come all this way to one of our local newspapers this morning and get printed, again, in full. It’s a good speech. I’m keeping a copy of it. Mum is interested and I’ve told her I’ll try and get her a copy, too.Yes. True. I can understand cynicism. We have enough of that attitude over here and I’m full of it much of the time. While I was reading the speech last night, some things caused me to mutter a little after some of the news I’d read in the weeks coming up to the big day. Let’s jst see how things flow from now on. That’ll be the important test. People need to remember what Obama said yesterday and see how he goes on from there.

  3. I don’t feel that there is any cynicism here, just a notion that Obamas speech will not be quoted for decades like Kennedy, Roosevelt or Lincoln’s for instance. And I think some expect much more from such a well spoken man.

  4. Do you reckon, Bob, that some of what he referred to, i.e. great people who lived before like Martin Luther King might stick in people’s memories? I loved what he said about his own father, too. That must have been a poignant moment for him.

  5. I see your point but MLK’s speeches will live on forever as they should. His remarks about his father were very strong but not really applicable to Obama. His father never suffered the indecencies of the American past of not being allowed to enter places and riding in the back having been in Kenya. His remarks were more directed to those fathers back then that did go through those atrocities, saying their sons could now be where he is today taking the oath, poignant but not memorable enough stand the test of time.

  6. I cringed when Chief Justice Roberts bootchered (and you have to say it with that exact inflection) the oath. I’m concerned that some people might think it was Obama’s mistake, but apparently Roberts decided to wing it and not use notes. Roberts forgot to pause after the opening phrase, causing Obama to appear to talk over him, then he misplaced the word "faithfully," at which point Obama stopped his recitation, obviously aware of the gaffe. They managed to get through it though. Well done!

  7. No the contrary Greg, I think the whole thing shows Obama just as he has tried to present himself. "Human just like the rest of us".You know as well as I that in his position that he has stood in front of the bathroom mirror, as any of us would and recited those words "I Barrack Obama do solemnly swear……." for months over and over again. And when Justice Roberts moved the word faithfully, Obama knew that Roberts had messed up, you could see it in is smile. Being a not so high on Obama person such as I am I can assure you that anyone with half a brain knew that Justice Roberts screwed up. My question is not one of thinking Obama messed up. My question is, Did Roberts Gaffe intentionally? He is not a big fan of Obama either.One other point should be made. Both Obama and Bush were great with each other during this whole process. Like Bush or not you have to admit that compared to past inaugurations his interaction with Obama was indeed pleasant without any brashness or animosity towards Obama nor visa versa. Not like Clinton-Bush when Bill shown total distain and disgust to Bush on his day.

  8. True, true. I considered that Roberts might have been hoping to taint the incoming President’s big moment, but I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, so I just assumed it was a genuine gaffe. Regarding the Clinton/Bush feud, consider the bad blood on both sides that surrounded the whole 2000 elections, and one can see why there might have been some animosity between the two. Then again, maybe Bill just hadn’t gotten laid that week.

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