Let’s redefine the concept of “lame”. Lame is me.
I was in Paris on Tuesday afternoon: but rather than wandering down to the Marais for a brioche, I bought a sandwich poulet fermier at the station, stayed in my hotel room and took photos of CNN’s coverage of Obama’s inauguration.
Even from a distance, watching the events on a small TV and brushing baguette crumbs from the bedspread, one got a real sense of The Inauguration as a Historic Moment. But perhaps in anticipation of the day, we had reimagined too much the gilded, selective memories of ceremonies past – the investitures of Lincoln, FDR, JFK . Obama’s speech was good, but it wasn’t great. George Kenney thought it “underwhelming” – a little harsh perhaps, but George’s reservations about Obama are healthy and justified.
If Obama’s speech didn’t quite reach the heights we had hoped, there has been some other political poetry floating about this week that’s quite cute. Matt (the amigo formerly known as DJ durutti) composed a haiku on the news that Karl Rove (no, he hasn’t yet been beamed back to the Planet Zorgon) is alive and twittering:
It really is him
Foxtard tweeps rejoice. Just don’t
follow me @KarlRove!
I haven’t any clue why anyone would choose to follow Karl Rove when you can follow Darth Vader instead: much funnier, slightly less evil and more skilled in the ways of the force. (When I started following Vader, I un-followed MC Hammer: somehow fictional Sith-power won out over knowing irony).
Anyway, although the Bush era is finished, and we will probably continue to laugh at W’s malapropisms for many years to come, a moment should be taken to salute the true Poet Laureate of the Bush presidency – Donald Henry Rumseld. His masterpiece “The Unknown” formed part of a Finance lecture on my MBA course last term as we contemplated where the credit crunch might lead:
(composed at a Department of Defense news briefing, Feb. 12, 2002)
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.
Obama’s cabinet would do well to remember Rumsfeld’s wise words as they plan their programmes for the coming years. Even in the most powerful political office in the world, it is not possible to know or forsee everything. Human beings are vain to think they can control or anticipate all eventualities. At the centre of power in America is just a regular human being. And that is the most scary, and yet the most hopeful thing of all.