As I write, I’m just listening to the inauguration ceremony in Washington, as we bid farewell to the long dark night of W, and as Irish-American senator, son of Jor-El and all-round saviour of humanity Barack O’Bama takes charge of the United States. Yes, I know, it’s easy to be cynical. We know, after all, that O’Bama is basically a down-the-line New Democrat, who can’t be expected to do anything even vaguely radical. We know that he is staffing his administration with retreads from the Clinton administration, starting with Hillary herself, and taking in the likes of Rahm Emmanuel, and even that evil bastard Holbrooke, who seems hell-bent on restarting the Bosnian war. We know, too, that in the last analysis he will do whatever Wall Street tells him to do.
And yet, there is something positive there in terms of the grassroots movement, the Black mobilisation in particular, and the rejection of the legacy of the Bush-43 administration, where we can see some potential. O’Bama is going to disappoint his followers big time – even if it wasn’t for the economic crisis and the foreign wars he’s been left with, the extraordinary burden of expectations on him would by itself account for that. The big question will be whether the wave he rode to power can, in the context of the crisis, give rise to something we can be really enthusiastic about. There’s some relevant discussion here.
While we’re on the subject of messiahs, there have been a lot of them doing the rounds as the handover of power has been going on. Here’s a question – when was the last time you saw Will Smith in an enjoyable film? It must be several years, at least, while he’s been busy playing roles that almost require him to wear a halo. He’s there in Washington too, although thankfully not rapping as he did for the Clintons. Not surprisingly, that long-running story about the Fresh Prince playing Barack in the movies just won’t go away. And why not? You want a charismatic Black lead with a messianic streak…
Finally, just to do the hat trick, did you catch any of the big Lincoln Memorial gig the other day? A bit of a mixed bag, I’ll admit, and not everybody there was to my taste, although an event featuring Shakira can’t be all bad. Springsteen was expected, and at least has good progressive credentials; Beyonce doesn’t exactly have the progressive credentials (unless “I’m a liberated woman cos my man gives me lots of bling” is where feminism is at presently) but is such a big act that she was probably inevitable. No, the thing that got up my goat was the choice of an Irish act, to reflect the ancestral roots of the president-elect (and not forgetting Derry man Joe Biden). And, with all the musical talent in Ireland and in the Irish diaspora, who turns up? Those sanctimonious tax-dodging phonies U2. Ah well, you couldn’t expect Bono to miss a chance to suck up to the new boss.