Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Last night's events

I missed watching the inauguration live last night because I was at a reception in the European Parliament launching some rather beautiful photographs of Timor Leste (as East Timor prefers to be known these days) taken by Luis Ramos Pinto. The foreign minister was also there. It's not a country I have ever worked on professionally, but the MEP hosting the event has helped me in the past and I wanted to show support. Also, of course, Timor Leste is a very interesting place in its own right.

The photographer introduced his exhibition in English, but both the MEP and the minister made short speeches in Portuguese, which I think is the first time I've been an event which was largely lusophone (apart from a church service I attended in Porto many years ago). It was a salutary reminder that there are other languages than English with a worldwide reach. And the event as a whole was also a nice reminder, on a day when millions of people were (rightly) celebrating the triumph of the American narrative, that there are other, more recent, narratives of struggle and liberation out there.

I did catch up with Obama's speech this morning. It did not disappoint. He's not a great soundbite man (which is why he didn't really shine in the debates). But the substance was all there, and the long Bush nightmare is over.

The only one of his senior officials who I have actually met is the incoming National Security Adviser, Jim Jones, who I went to see once at SHAPE in Mons when he was SACEUR (sorry for the mystifying abbreviations but spelling them out in full is tedious). He impressed me - a Marine general with an actual brain; another of Obama's good picks.

Pedantic point: I was a bit startled by Obama's statement that forty-four Americans have now taken the oath - by my count, it's forty-three, because of Grover Cleveland's non-consecutive terms. (Or was there some other occasion I've forgotten? I make the total number of inaugurations 63, assuming that all 19 re-elections of an incumbent required a swearing-in ceremony.)
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