Today is the day many Americans have looked forward to….some for eight years…some for eight generations. Barak Obama will become the 44th President of the United States of America, and the leader of the Free World, at the stroke of Noon, Washington time.
Lots of poets have been asked to pen special tributes to the next President of the United States. Billy Collins, Julia Alvarez, Gary Soto and Christopher Funkhouser are among the published poets generating their own political brands of iambic pentameter…and here at The CNN650 Morning Show, our own Bard of the Broadcast Booth has written a special poem on the occasion of the Inauguration of Barak Hussein Obama:
The Votes are counted, the Polls proclaim
the next President, Barak Obama, by name;
Across the Mall in Washington, and on the fruited plains,
you can buy all sorts of stuff that bear his likenesses and fame.
The whole world is watching as Obama recites his licks,
and the chzotzki-vendors are getting rich—
Would you like to buy some Barak Chop Sticks?
Barak Obama’s speech this morning is expected to address the economic challenges that face the nation, while pulling together a constituency that is pretty evenly-divided over his Presidency.
There have been many references to the historic moment that awaits this country as our first Black President takes office…and because of the Race issue, Abraham Lincoln, known as America’s “Great Emancipator,” has been brought back to life in the minds of the public. President Obama is expected to raise up a sector of the American public that has for generations felt it was held in place by The Man, stymied by The System, and still in need of a political emancipation.
That’s all well and good, and the warm-fuzzies that are emanating from the Lincoln Memorial may help to ward off the chill in the January air. But as Leonard Pitts wrote in yesterday’s edition of The Miami Herald, "President Lincoln freed no slaves. That's the myth."
“Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure to demoralize and destabilize the rebellious South; it covered states he did not govern but did not apply in slaveholding states that remained under his jurisdiction.”
No one is diminishing the importance of Lincoln’s presidency. Without his political prowess, the United States might look very different today. Lincoln had an unfaltering faith in the Union fractured by Civil War.
Pitt’s piece is not questioning Lincoln's greatness, but poking holes in our national tendency to “cherish untextured myths that affirm our preferred narratives.”
“George Washington confessing that he chopped down the cherry tree is one, a parable of honesty that has survived for generations despite the minor inconvenience of not being true. Lincoln the Great Emancipator is yet another."
Pitts writes, “Abraham Lincoln did not believe in the equality of black people. He did, however — and this was no minor distinction in his era — believe in their humanity. He also abhorred slavery. But he was willing to countenance it if doing so would have vindicated his primary goal: to save the Union.”
For Mr. Lincoln, nothing mattered more. He maintained until the tragic end of his life that there was “something unique, something necessary to preserve, in the union of American states, this government of, by and for the people. He held to this even when common sense, casualty reports and political reality demanded otherwise."
“So, remarkable as it is that America has elected a black man its 44th president, Lincoln might find it more remarkable simply that the country has elected a 44th president at all. That was not always a certainty. He would be glad to know that, 144 years after his death, America continues to surprise itself.
“The Union endures.”