It only really hits me that the United State of America has elected a black president when I see photos of him with his family. Barack Obama is multiracial, his skin is light in tone. He doesn't look stereotypically black, in the way that, say, Stellan Skarsgard looks Nordic or Eva Mendes looks Latin. You can imagine seeing him out of context and having a hard time immediately pinpointing his race. Not so with Michelle, Malia and Sasha.
So when I see them all together, either on Election Night or today while watching marchers from the reviewing stand, the full significance of what's happened in this country really sinks in. And it's a beautiful thing. The images of that family in coming years will be so powerful, in ways that will be difficult to quantify or understand, and subtly transform how Americans think about themselves and one another.
Other quick thoughts from today:
-- My favorite line of the day, from Ken Layne's live-blogging of the inauguration itself: "And now famous Hollywood composer John Williams will conduct the 'Imperial March,' as Cheney is wheeled into a vat of cooking oil."
-- How did Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman keep themselves warm enough to play their instruments?
-- David Brooks commemorated Inauguration Day with a column that was, for him, not horrible. Plenty of the usual generalities, but they mostly hewed to reality.
Towards the end though, he decides to get his digs in against Obama and the Democrats' massive economic stimulus plan. It also sounds like he's taking a swipe at Paul Krugman:
"And anybody who is not terrified by the prospect of spending $800 billion hastily has not spent enough time studying the difference between economic textbooks and the way government actually operates."
Obviously we don't want to throw together a plan and flush nearly a trillion dollars down the toilet, like Bush and Paulson have already done, but we're going to need major deficit-spending to stave off a severe recession.
Brooks goes on to note how the "folks in the Obama camp hope to create a Grand Bargain. That would mean building on a culture of cohesion and tackling the issues that require joint sacrifice -- like reducing deficits, fixing Medicare and Social Security and reforming health care. "
But Congressional Republicans don't want to reform Social Security and Medicare, of course -- they want to eliminate them. So I was heartened to see an indication in Obama's speech that he won't be suckered into legislation that makes gutting Social Security the trade-off for an effective stimulus plan:
"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done ... "
-- Later in tbe speech, I wonder what Bush was thinking when Obama said:
"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."