I still have little use for his policies, I still find him diametrically opposed to my view of America, but I must admit, as I was when he won the election in 2008, I do find myself occasionally moved by some of the symbolism of Barack Obama's presidency. In 2008, it was simply the act of a black man being elected president, even though he has by no means led the life of a typical African American, nor do I feel has he particularly improved race relations in our country nor made the quality of life for minorities in America tangibly better. But by simply being there, a black president, standing before the world as America's leader atop fractured race relations reaching back to before our founding, something is innately cool about that, good for our country, good for our society.
Today, the moment (admittedly seen on Special Report, not live, sorry I got a job!) came when Barack Obama, the reelected black President of the United States of America, repeated the oath of office with his hand on Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.'s bible and Abraham Lincoln's bible....on Martin Luther King Day. Those two books carry with them an American symbolism that is eminently potent, a potency derived - in my mind - more from their earthly owners than any ecclesiastical lineage. Its during moments like this - with President Obama with his hand upon those tomes - that I can't help but feel the personal affinity for him that so consumes his supporters, as well as a deep national pride for the American ideal(derived from a patriotism which is actually far different from the jingoist hard right nationalism or the communal, social naivete of the far left). Rare moments like this are the ones when Obama shines, when the iconic significance of a moment reaches up to embrace the elevated rhetoric and often illusory iconic shell of the man, and America is better for it.
All political value aside for the president, historic moments like this are good for the country, even if so many of the policies that will emanate from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the next four years will not be.