Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

It's 1:30 a.m. as I write this from a dingy internet cafe in Bangkok. I'm here watching live online video streaming of President Obama's Inauguration. The computers have no sound, and my friend and I are the only Americans in this brown-walled building, but still the energy is palpable. We burst into applause at the silent computer monitor when Obama took his oath.

I interviewed Vice President Joe Biden once. Well, "interviewed" is a strong word -- I was one of three reporters in a room with Biden, and each of us could ask him one question. It was April 2007, when Biden was a Senator preparing his own Presidential bid, and he had just made a speech in Boulder, Colo., about foreign policy. During his speech, he said that there were certain issues he cared strongly about, and other issues he didn't care about quite as much.

My question to Joe Biden: what are the issues you don't quite care about?

He faltered and gave a run-around political answer: Well, what I really meant was that there are some issues, like Iraq, that I deeply care about .... he began. After a minute or two of talking in circles, he saw from the expression on my face that I wanted a straight response. So he gave me one.

Federal highway allocation, he said. He didn't care very much about divvying up money for highway projects. (I published this response in the newspaper that I wrote for at the time.)

Ironically, now that the economy is in tatters, the first thing that Pres. Obama and VP Biden will do in office is pass an enormous economic stimulus package -- which will include a HUGE federal highway allocation.

Funny how the world works, ain't it, Biden?