Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching at the Office

It was an interlude from another time: a group of office workers gathered around a portable television picking up a nearby signal through rabbit ears. At first there were jokes—about Aretha's hat, Diane Feinstein's political address, W's wistful, out-of-touch serenity. But then as the new president began his address, we grew rapt and quiet, each of us in our own way taking in the moment and the message we were hearing. Was it a great speech? It was great enough. It made a clean break from the ugliness of the last several years, and it promised great things if we would only work to attain them. There are those who will not get the message (Wall Street chief among them), but millions in this country and billions around the world will now move forward with a new image of America in their heads—a place of understanding and open-handed pragmatism animated by the belief that our many strengths can serve the world well.

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