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Our boss wanted us to be able to watch the inauguration today. We don’t have cable television at work and she knew this, so she suggested we close the museum and go somewhere and watch. After all, this was history in the making and, being historians, we should keep track of this sort of thing. It didn’t dawn on me right away that we could live-stream the inauguration via the internet (which we did) at the museum. Part of the reason I didn’t think of this was because I’m Gen X and my first thought for such events is television, not internet. The other reason is that we just got high-speed internet this past year, so it wasn’t that long ago that we were technologically incapable of live-streaming anything. What a difference in a short amount of time.

As I was watching the inauguration, and getting choked up, I came to a realization about the George W. Bush White House years. While we were in the midst of them, I kept getting angry that the American people didn’t hold the Bush Administration accountable for their actions. Why weren’t we marching in the streets over the stripping of our Constitutional rights, or the policy on torture, or the war in Iraq? Why didn’t we do anything?

As President Barack Obama delivered his speech and I looked at the crowd on the mall in Washington, D.C., it occurred to me that we DID hold Bush/Cheney et. al. accountable, but we did it in a passive-aggressive way. We argued amongst ourselves. We beat our chests. A gazillion books (more than I’ve ever seen, anyway) were written about how horrible this administration was. We grouched and grumbled in every way we could. The Bush Administration knew we were mad, even if they were in complete public denial.

There was no denying it today, though, because our previously foul national mood was immediately lifted with the crowd’s joyous reaction to Obama’s speech. The constrast was so stark that it slapped me in the face.

We have a talent for being passive-aggressive.