You don’t always hear much from presidents after they’re elected. Some presidents are very good with the media and put forth a lot of effort to keep a finger on the public pulse. Other presidents are notoriously silent, and ignore the press or avoid them like they’re paparazzi. Obama is somewhere in the middle. When something big happens, you hear from him very quickly. When it’s business as usual, you hear about him, but not from him. But the inauguration is an event that all presidents must undergo. It is highly public and viewed by many.
I’m not usually one of them. Personally, inaugurations bore me. They’re pretty much the same every time. Oh, there are differences that matter to some, but realistically, this is just a formality – a public ritual that America requires of all its presidents. For that matter, it’s not even the real ritual. The actual party is somewhere else. This one is to satisfy the masses. The expensive caviar and champagne is behind closed doors, and I couldn’t care less about that either.
I do, however, sometimes ponder the pomp and circumstance with a cynical sarcastic twinge. Is all this really necessary? I suppose to some it is. It’s not business, it’s proto-business. That makes it personal to those who take things personally, and impersonal to the those of us who are indifferent. As a relatively agnostic somewhat apathetic viewer of ritual, I find it unnecessary and usually disdain of the media circus surrounding it. I can’t help but wonder if presidents feel the same. Forced to stand forth beneath the cameras, they must profess their loyalty to a country they already serve with conviction, while placing their hand on a book they may not entirely agree with, but is required by convention and tradition. The words they voice are important to those who want them to be important – giving naive artificial reassurance that ethics, morals, and values are maintained in a manner consistent with the statistical norm.
All illusion. Should any president disagree with the oath, they would never say so. Their goals, however, have not changed. If they have not been fully vetted by now, this ritual will not alter that. Should they choose to lie upon that podium with that book beneath their hands, a bolt of lightning will not strike them down. If this were a concern, then they would be indoors, and fear would dominate the ceremony, a silent holding of breath, an expectation of a revelation in veracity. But there is no fear, only the act. And after the act, there will be cake.
Perhaps someday in the future, there will only be cake. And it will be then that the president’s baker will truly shine forth, and his or her skills will become evident as the last bit of frosting is licked from the flatware. I might not watch the inauguration, but I would happily eat the cake.