So that's the jaundiced, slightly frostbitten view of the proceedings. The kinder thing to say is that this was an impressive celebration of left-wing patriotism, the sort of thing this country hasn't seen on such a scale in years or even decades. In an essay for Time last year, Peter Beinart observed, with some accuracy, that "conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past," while "liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past." The inaugural concert was all about the latter sort: The patriotism of Seeger and Springsteen; of white Hollywood and the black church; of Gene Robinson and the Gay Men's Chorus; and of course the Pope of liberal Christianity himself. (Even Reagan was co-opted to the achieving-our-country theme: They found the most liberal-friendly line in his first inaugural - "how can we love our country and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?" - and quoted it amid similar phrases from FDR and JFK, MLK and Lincoln.) I won't say that it was exactly my kind of celebration, but it was the kind of celebration that liberal America has waited an awfully long time to experience. And I would be an ungrateful graduate of many a boyhood Pete Seeger singalong - I know the "radical verses" as well as any Obamaphile - if I didn't feel happy for my left-of-center countrymen in their hour of long-awaited celebration. You can't say that they didn't work awfully hard for it.
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