Inaugural Tears of Joy
I watched President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration on TV in Israel, alternating between Hebrew- and English-speaking channels, so as not to miss any detail or piece of commentary.
The build-up to the momentous event had been dramatic. Until late in the race, it appeared that Hillary Clinton was going to strut away with the Democratic nomination and beat Republican candidate John McCain with one hand tied behind her back.
Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, an unknown senator from Illinois emerged and proceeded to crush her vision of reentering the White House as its master, not simply first lady.
Mrs. Bill Clinton was understandably livid to see the effect that Obama had on her party and its supporters. Not only was he everything she was not: tall, dark, handsome and charismatic; he also outranked her in minority status. She may have had hopes of becoming the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. But he was black.
In addition, though Clinton had a political record that could be critiqued — and a spouse whose blatant infidelities led to his impeachment, but not to her divorcing him – Obama possessed a picture-perfect nuclear family and no visible blemishes on his enigmatic past.
Both had been Saul Alinskyites in their youth, but Clinton had long since sold her radicalism to the highest bidder, exchanging ideology for financial opportunism and power-lust. Obama, on the other hand – considerably younger than his rival – was still in the throes of his late mentor’s teachings.
For Clinton, America’s greatness and abundance were there for exploitation. Obama viewed the country and its institutions as a lump of unappealing clay he was anointed to pummel and remold in his image. His motto of “hope and change” disguised this agenda, but it invigorated a disgruntled public hungry for Utopia. Neither Clinton nor McCain stood a chance.
When Obama was sworn in – his hand disturbingly on the Bible whose passages he had spent 20 years hearing in sermons preached by his anti-American, anti-white and antisemitic pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright – I longed to join in the festivities.
Indeed, it was a truly historic occasion for a country in which segregation was still practiced in my lifetime, to be electing a black president. As cameras zoomed in on Oprah Winfrey weeping tears of joy, I wanted to join her. I wished to be cheering, rather than mourning what I anticipated was going to be a concerted effort to destroy the great United States from within and appease its external enemies to the point of endangering Israel.
Eight years have passed since that fateful day, which marked the beginning of a very unhappy period in the country of my birth, and for the Jewish state in which I have resided since the summer following Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Much has transpired during Obama’s two terms in office, all of it colossally bad. This was to be expected, given the success of his administration in carrying out its goal to unravel the flawed fabric of an otherwise great nation and turn it into a bowl of Jell-O.
As soon as Obama’s first term in office ended, Clinton began to prepare to take what she considered to be her rightful place at the helm. This time around, nothing was going to stop her. She was even promised by the party that there would be no more surprises.
Lo and behold, two were in store. The first was Bernie Sanders, an old-style Jewish socialist who miraculously gave her a run for her money in the primaries. The second was Donald Trump.
Like Obama, Trump — a real estate magnate and reality show host, world famous for everything but his politics — suddenly appeared on the scene, as if out of nowhere. And, after knocking out 16 Republican opponents, he proceeded to clobber Clinton.
Trump stomped onto the literal and figurative stage with such an enormous bang that not a single person believed for a second that he was a serious contender for the job of commander-in-chief.
But his message, despite being distasteful to many, was no less gripping than Obama’s had been. What Trump announced was that he was going to “make America great again.”
The slogan was not as much of a winner, however, as the brash, often offensive, man who was shouting it from the rooftops, enthralling crowds by reminding them that the secret of America’s success has always been its people. He told them to recall that, when unfettered by overly intrusive government — and released from the tyranny of mind-control born of political correctness on steroids — Americans flourish. He also announced that the bullying of America, from within and without, would not be tolerated.
Trump was not inventing the wheel; he was merely giving it a hefty whirl to show that even eight years of rust can be removed with a little elbow grease. He was not selling a fantasy; he was invoking a forgotten reality. No wonder it worked.
What he does with his victory remains to be seen, but so far, the team he is assembling looks promising.
When I turn on the TV in Israel to watch his swearing-in ceremony on Friday, even the mass demonstrations against the legitimacy of his presidency will not prevent me from shedding a tear of celebration, as I had so yearned to do with Oprah in 2009.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.