Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama in Sydney

At 4 a.m., local time, President Obama was sworn in. My son and I set our alarm to get up and watch, as did many of the students in the class. For the Gruntleds, this was an exhilarating moment.

At 1 p.m., local time, the class all assembled at the Manning Bar in the student union of the University of Sydney. This is deep vacation time in Australia, the equivalent of the week before Labor Day in the U.S. Nonetheless, the U.S. Studies Centre of the Uni of Sydney sponsored a rebroadcast of the Inauguration. The bar theater, which held several hundred, was standing room only.

Before the big event the Centre showed the short films they had received in a contest about the U.S. election. These were mostly funny, generally pro-Obama, and pretty well done. The winner, a film about the author's obsession with the election, won him and a friend a trip to Washington for the festivities.

The crowd then watched attentively from the swearing-in of Vice-President Biden through the departure of former president Bush in the helicopter. The mood in the room ranged from pleased to elated. The greatest applause came when Pres. Obama completed the oath and when he was introduced by Sen. Feinstein as the 44th President of the United States. When the U.S. national anthem played, about dozen Americans stood, hand on heart.

When we asked a well-informed Australian political figure what the country thought about the U.S. election, he offered that Obama probably could have been elected Prime Minister of Australia. I am sure there are anti-Obama Australians, but we have yet to meet one. Even avowed members of the coalition of conservative parties here, the Liberals and Nationals, who were strongly connected with Pres. Bush, seem pleased with Obama's election. Or if not pleased, then relieved.

The third loudest applause of the afternoon at the University of Sydney: when President Bush's helicopter flew away.


nick.carraway said...

A pundit after yesterday's inauguration mentioned that Obama had achieved Mandela level status in some countries around the world. I find that hard to believe, but I am pleased that the worldwide community is generally pleased with the actions of the US for a change.

A friend of mine, an Obama supporter, was disappointed when Bush was booed during the ceremony. I share that sentiment; as happy as a lot of us were to see him go, I don't think that was the place for it. As a sometime optimist, I'm going to say that they were chanting BUUUUUUUUUUsh, as in when Reggie Bush breaks off a big run for the Saints.

Maggie said...

I wonder how long it will be before people stop being ugly to Bush? I was embarrased by how he was treated at Obama's swearing in. I deeply appreciate all he has done for our country as many others in America do. I guess it is open season on Obama now. I hope we are more polite in our rhetoric than the left has been.

nick.carraway said...

Hey pot, this is the kettle're black

Sydney Accommodation said...

I'm am yet to hear an anti-Obama comments and doubt I will for some time. There is a lot of hope resting on his shoulders and whilst a lot is being made of the economic crisis I thinks the vast majority see this as an opportunity to unite the peoples of the world. Good ridence to GW Bush. Jamie S.A.

Deddrick said...

Good come back Nick! Maggie better shut her mouth. We are in charge now. Yes we can.

Anonymous said...

From today's Financial Times, UK: "A Dutch court yesterday ordered prosecutors to try Geert Wilders, an anti- immigration MP, for incitement to hatred and discrimination after he compared Islam to Nazism."

From the website, under "the Agenda": "Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: President Obama and Vice President Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section."

After Obama, Biden, and the Dem congress rev up the anti-hate speech legislation here in the U.S. we are headed the way of the Netherlands.

Hope and Change indeed.

mick said...

WOW! Liberal sociology proffesor who says he is a centrist finds pro Obama sentiment in Australia. That'a dog bites man for sure.