Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beginnings and Ends

Yesterday was inauguration day here in Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire was sworn in for her second term. We had a farewell luncheon at the office and, policy nerds that we are, watched the ceremony and the listened to the governor's speech while we stuffed ourselves. I had not seen her speak in such a formal setting before and, despite my high regard for her, I was disappointed. She is not a compelling speaker and while I thought policies she articulated make sense, they came across sounding like platitudes. She's strongly supports neighbors helping neighbors, dislikes the budget she submitted to balance our $5 (or 7) billion deficit and is very much in favor of the 21st century, Barack Obama and veterans. You can see it all here.

The part that most bothered me was her tributes to Washington's service members veterans. It seemed like pandering, which is not entirely fair to say since she and her Vietnam veteran husband have been supportive of veterans during her past four years. For me it comes down to praising the warriors but ignoring how their sacrifices have been so wasted in the CheneyBush wars. And, of course, that's my own experience blinkering my view. It just seems so shallow.

Even more ironic is the new Washington State Gold Star Parent license plate for the parents of service members who die in service. I know it sounds cynical of me but somehow a license plate just doesn't replace the lost son or daughter. It's not meant to, of course, but I'm still stuck on the question "Why did they die?" I guess a license plate is at least something when the nation has nothing to show for your child's sacrifice.

Maybe Obama's speech will put me in a better mood next week.



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