Eight years ago, I stood in the cold at the Federal Building in Seattle with 5000 other people, registering a protest against the inauguration of George W. Bush. Today, finally, he and (most of) his minions are gone. And today people gathered all over the country to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama-- in vast numbers in Washington D.C., in more modest numbers in a variety of public places everywhere else.
While Eileen Gunn and I were at Victrola this afternoon for our writing date, a local Fox news team moved around the cafe from table to table, interviewing people about their sense of change, their expectations, their own priorities for what the new Administration should do first. The interviewer cited a list of 500 promises Obama made over the course of his campaign. My impression was that she was hoping to get sound bytes of people naming this or that particular item as the job Obama ought to accomplish first. Eileen, when interviewed, refused to be pinned down to such a narrow framework for discussion. Still, the interviewer was mightily taken with Eileen's statement that she had spent three hours today Twittering about the inauguration. (Technology vis-a-vis politics is very sexy just now.) Afterwards, during our brief postmortem of the interview, Eileen realized that in quoting a president ("I forget which president said that"), she had actually been quoting President Goldwater, in her Tricky Dick alternate history story.
It felt, truly, like a classic science-fictional moment.