Perhaps in growing old I have lost whatever enthusiasm I possessed. Or perhaps it decreases as time passes, much like my testosterone if we are to believe those commercials which have, it seems, at least temporarily overshadowed those dealing with other aspects or other causes of that engrossing (giggle) topic, erectile dysfunction. But I must confess I thought the second inauguration of our President to be excessive, garish and even in some respects silly.
In the past, I've managed to avoid inaugurations, for the most part. They strike me generally as dull and unfortunate rituals. Get sworn in and get to work, I think, is the most appropriate way to proceed. We wasted enough money during the election process; why spend more now that it is over? I don't care, particularly, whether or not a Bible is used. An oath is an oath, regardless of where one's hand is placed. A person of honor will struggle to keep an oath, and will do so whether or not he/she fears God. In fact, doing so only because of the fear of God is an indication the maker of the oath is less than honorable.
This inauguration seemed unavoidable, though. I don't watch TV all that much, but it seemed ubiquitous if the TV I watched is any indication. Cable news channels appeared obsessive in their coverage, not merely of the events involved but in the preparation of those events, in speculation regarding the events, in explanation regarding the events, in commentary regarding the events. Pundits are the curse of our time, but they seemed especially exclamatory, hyperbolic even, as they rhapsodized and reacted. Now we involve ourselves in debates over whether Beyonce lip-synced our nation's anthem--which is, it must be admitted, difficult to sing. Alas, the circus is not yet over. Will it ever be?
Was it always like this? Am I more perceptive (or less oblivious, blissfully oblivious) now than I was during the rituals of the past? Did Hollywood and the divas of popular music figure so significantly in the commencement of the reigns of previous presidents?
The inaugural address has been cited as a kind of paean to liberal, secular government, but I find nothing particularly insightful or inciting in it. No doubt it is interesting that gays were mentioned in such an address for the first time. But to those like myself, it is desirable that government not involve itself in the sexual relations of consenting adults, and what is called "marriage" from the standpoint of the law is not and should not be anything sacred or mandated in heaven; it is merely another legal relationship which requires regulation. What it may be to certain of the religious is another issue, but that is not the realm of government. It is one of the inconsistencies of what passes for conservatism these days that conservatives demand that government affirmatively and aggressively regulate and legislate regarding social and religious conduct, and not allow people to do what they want to do, i.e., be free.
Everything truly is showbiz, it seems. It's not that in our time this is, or has become, the case more than it has in the past. I tend to deplore our tendency to compare ourselves to the Romans, but one of the many things they did was perfect the use of panem et circenses in the promotion of political popularity and population control. I think, though, that we, or those who are interested in manipulating us, are better able to make entertainment a dominant factor in our lives. Our technology is now such that all we do is given the appearance of entertainment (e.g., "reality shows") and functions as entertainment.
I know this may simply make me sound old, older indeed than I am (I've always seemed old, to many I know), but there is dignity in simplicity, and dignity is something we lack, particularly in our politics. This may be one of the reasons we have no respect for our politics or our politicians. I fear the more we cater to excess and treat politics as entertainment and the business of entertainers, the less significance we will attribute to our politics, and the worse off we will be.