I’m wrestling with why I feel a sense of exhilaration on the day an American president is sworn in, when I have felt no such emotion when a new prime minister takes office in Ottawa.
Jealousy is certainly one of the emotions Canadians are feeling today, wishing we could feel one hundredth the excitement over our government that Americans are experiencing about theirs.
As I’ve previously written, Barack Obama is bound to disappoint, because he can’t possibly live up to expectations. For now, though, he embodies the hope that we’ve reached a turning point. In that sense, he’s simply a poster boy for national and international hopes that we can do better.
We’ve been discussing Obama in the newsroom today and piecing together thoughts on our editorial for tomorrow’s Daily News. There seems to be some consensus that Obama’s much-anticipated speech was a bit anti-climactic.
I think my contribution to the editorial might be that his speech was less about catchy one-liners than trying to capture a sense of that hope for change. It was a little bit FDR, a little bit JFK, and a little bit Martin Luther King. Yet there was no single line in this speech that will be remembered. There was no “We have nothing to fear. . . .,” no “Ask not what your country can do for you. . . .,” no “I have a dream.”
Maybe I’m entirely wrong about what he can do. Years from now, we won’t remember much about Barack Obama’s speech, perhaps surprising given his much-vaunted gift for oratory. Maybe, though, we’ll remember something more important — that his election ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity. Maybe we’ll remember him for achieving what he promised not in his inaugural speech, but on the campaign trail — “Yes we can.”