By Anson Burlingame
Globe guest columnist
I watched history unfold Tuesday during the inauguration and was thrilled. I then watched politics muddy the waters and was disgusted.
I have been fortunate enough to have been in D.C. for the 1961 inauguration of John F. Kennedy, the 1965 inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson and the 1989 inauguration of George H.W. Bush. All were memorable events that I observed from a distance as an 18-year-old, a 22-year-old and a 46-year-old. Tuesday, I watched the events unfold on a recording about an hour behind real time from the comfort of my home in Joplin as a 66-year-old.
I was gratified and thrilled to really see history in the making. The whole event from going to church, going to and leaving the White House, the arrival at the Capitol and the ceremony itself was an event for the ages. I am happy that modern technology allowed me to participate and even rerun it several times to make sure that I heard and saw it all as I remembered.
Late in the afternoon I turned off the recording and watched part of the parade in real time. My first live picture was President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. A great picture. Soon thereafter the parade started and a torrent of mud (I would choose a different word, but it would not be printed) hit the screen.
The commentators, pundits — whatever — started their analysis of the inauguration speech. There must have been two different speeches. There was the one that I watched several times and the one they watched. One was historic and visionary, emphasizing individual and government accountability, the other was political mudslinging at Bush and his administration. “Their” speech was how bad it was and how great it will be.
“My” speech was how tough it is right now, how hard it will be to move forward and the hope and determination that we will prevail.
The Globe’s Wednesday editorial and George Will’s timely column both reflected what I heard from the new president, and I agree wholeheartedly.
The political muck (still would choose a better word) from those jerks on MSNBC and CNN and even Fox was from a different world.
For sure, I do not know where we as a nation stand right now in the overall course of events. I do feel confident that we are not at high tide, a moment of historical triumph, acclaim, admiration, etc. Is the tide at this moment all the way out and ready to start coming back in? I hope so. Or is it halfway out, with still a long way to go before it reverses? Or is it already halfway in and moving toward a high point, meaning the worst is behind us? I simply do not know. Do you or does anyone else?
Did the tide of history change Tuesday? Certainly most of us hope sincerely that it did. None of us has a crystal ball that sees the future with certainty. We cannot even be sure how history will judge the speech given Tuesday. We can hope, pray and do all in our power to improve, and we should. But the tide is still going to do what the tide is going to do. Someday we may move the moon and thus control the tide.
Until then, please stop interrupting an uplifting parade with your inane political blather.
Anson Burlingame lives in Joplin.
By Anson Burlingame