Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The Cabdriver's Inaugural Address

The moment in history is little more than a weekend away and, as Peggy Noonan writes today from Washington, "Everyone wants to be part of it."

She tells of Obama's speechwriter Jon Favreau in a taxi mentioning that he knows someone in the new administration:

"The cabdriver handed him a fully written inaugural address, and asked him to pass it on. Later, thinking of this, unbidden and for no clear reason, the words of the theme of the 1956 movie 'Friendly Persuasion' came to mind: 'Thee is mine, though I don't know many words of praise / Thee pleasures me in a hundred ways.' Jessamyn West's celebration of the Quakers of Indiana during the Civil War is a tale of a community living apart from a great drama and yet within that drama.

"And so the cabdriver, who works a shift, is up at night writing his inaugural address for Mr. Obama, knowing, this being America, the most fluid country in history, a place of unforeseen magic, that he would meet someone who knows someone. We all want to be together, to work together, we all want to be part of the history, of the time. And why not? Join in. Lightning strikes."

That feeling will swell up everywhere over the next few days, an unreasonable tide of hope and pride in the darkest of days, overwhelming everything we know and fear to move us to tears.

We are all living in a Frank Capra movie now--"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Meet John Doe," "It's a Wonderful Life"--and we don't want to hear that it's all fantasy, that the houselights will come up and send us out into a cold, dark night of reality.

I can't wait to learn what Barack Obama and Jon Favreau have written for Tuesday, but I wish I could hear the cabdriver's inaugural address, too.

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