HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

January 19, 2009
From the Editor

John Turner


Here we are on the eve of Mr. Obama's inauguration. It has been a long time coming.

I wish him well. I'm not one to believe in political saviors. Truth is, I don't believe in saviors of any kind. But I do think we can help one another, and if we can have a president who will work with us in that spirit that will surely be a lot better than what we've had lately.

There was a time in my immaturity when I would have envied Obama. That sort of thing has no passed me by. To think of all the people who will be harassing him, trying to grab just three minutes of his attention, makes me tired -- and sympathetic. He does, however, seem to have the temperament to handle the pandemonium as well as almost anyone.

It will be fun to watch the event on TV. But I can't say I would want to be there. Standing in the cold, jammed in by crowds, is not my idea of pleasure. And even the thought that I was participating in history wouldn't be enough to overcome the discomfort.

For those who do go, though, I hope they do take away a sense of history, and the feeling that they have done something important. And I hope it won't be too cold. Being cold all day is a bad thing.

People say that his speech doesn't matter, that just the vision of him standing, taking the oath of office will be enough to transform the image of America all around the world. Maybe. But I'm with his daughter; he had better make it good. It would be nice to think he had written it himself, and, who knows? Maybe he did. He's a good writer and it's hard to think that anyone else could improve on what he could draw out of his own mind and heart.

People have asked me what I think is going to happen. I have given the only honest answer I can -- I don't know. But I will admit that I think Obama has the opportunity to be one of our few truly fine public servants. Having the qualities that might lead to greatness doesn't guarantee that they will be used. Yet, without them, there's no chance. And it's a good thing to think that at least there is some possibility.

I'm sure his girls will have a good time running around the White House tomorrow night, and for some reason that makes me happier than all the other stuff connected to the great event.


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