Roman Around

combating liberalism and other childish notions


Posted by Andrew Roman on February 2, 2009

You ain't no "Sting."

You ain't no "Sting."

I must admit that when “Hail To The Chief” was played during the Inauguration of President Obama, something about it didn’t seem right – and it had nothing to do with the fact that I would have voted for Pete Puma before Obama. It was, rather, a strange uneasiness – or even a sadness, if you will – at what I hoped was just a misguided instinct on my part. All of the typical Inaugural “pomp and circumstance” seemed a touch out of kilter with the new President – as if the ceremonious proceedings were there as good-intentioned recompense to “old school” types who just couldn’t let go of the old ways. It was as if traditionalists like myself were being humored in advance of Obama’s tidal wave of “change.” Something told me that all of the majesty and custom I was watching didn’t really click with the new Chief Executive.

I found that sad.

Well, as it turns out, the new man in the White House is not a big one for all that grandiose formality stuff traditionally associated with the Presidency of the United States, at least according to the best Press Secretary that has ever existed, Robert Gibbs. Obama is a new kind of leader, perhaps the greatest human being that has ever appeared on sixty-two thousand magazine covers simultaneously – a political meterosexual, the new casual Executive, the informal shackle-breaker and unifier of all oppressed peoples.

Tim Graham at Newsbusters writes:

Veteran CBS Radio White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports that President Obama is relaxing more than the dress code at the presidential mansion. Pomp is giving way to piano-bar pop.

On Day One of his presidency, everywhere Mr. Obama went they played “Hail to the Chief” for him – but not since. In fact the U.S. Marine Band’s duties at the White House over the last 10 days appear to have been dramatically downsized.

Instead of the usual contingent of trumpets, tubas and drums, a single piano player now provides musical interludes before and after the president’s appearance.

And the tunes have little connection to the military marching music of John Phillips Souza [sic] that is the usual accompaniment to presidential appearances. These days the pianist’s repertoire includes Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and Sting’s “Desert Rose.”

The so-called “pomp and circumstance” that surrounds the American Presidency, at least in my mind, is an important and relevant component to the office. Indeed, it is on one hand symbolic (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but it, too, reinforces the respect that this country affords the position. It rightly sets the Office of President of the United States above any single person who might occupy it.

There was always something marvelously awe-inspiring, for instance, about the reverence and esteem President Ronald Reagan had for the Oval Office, always wearing a tie when he was there as a sign of respect.

And to assert that all of the convention and ritual associated with the Presidency makes him seem less accessible or less able to “relate” to the American people is as false as the Obama claim that sending out checks to people who don’t pay income tax are tax cuts. Ronald Reagan was the quintessential everyday American – and there has been no one in my lifetime that more embodied the state of being “presidential” than he.

Graham continues:

To many Americans, this excessive informality suggests a real distaste for “official” or “patriotic” music, not to mention the Marine band that plays it.

This issue is light enough that Matt Lauer could have asked about it yesterday during his fluffy pre-Super Bowl interview. Will the rest of the media inquire about this musical flag-pin controversy?

We all know the answer to that. 

But if, by chance, the new “relaxed” White House is broached anywhere on the cackling news networks, it will be seen as a huge positive, as something beneficial to the United States somehow.

Of course, Obama is a product of the Age of Narcissism. If he harbors personal indifference for the traditions that are tied to being President, what’s the difference? As long as he is satisfied.

A blogger at the Ace of Spades site called Drew M. writes:

What Obama, like Carter before, doesn’t get is it isn’t about him. Yeah, he’s some guy from Chicago (by way of Hawaii, Indonesia and wherever) but right now in everything he does he’s the living, walking embodiment of the United States of America. He may think he’s being cool and hip but eventually Americans will grow weary of seeing the symbols of the United States made small.

He goes on to say that such a thing has happened before, under the illustrious and intestine-gurgling Presidency of “The Wortheless One” (as talk show host Michael Medved calls him), Jimmy Carter.

From the very start of his presidency, Jimmy Carter attempted to make the office more personable and accessible: he walked along the inaugural parade route, ended the playing of Hail to the Chief, and carried his own luggage. Elected largely on his promise to never lie to the American people, Carter soon seemed out of place in the vastness of the presidency. Events conspired to further impede his progress: rising energy costs, high unemployment, Americans held hostage in Iran, Soviets in Afghanistan. A man of peace who took pride in bringing together age-old antagonists, Carter was finally viewed by his countrymen as lacking presidential stature.

Call me old-fashioned – although I prefer the moniker “American.”

I like my Presidents to look and act Presidential.

Silly me.



  1. Nickrud said

    Myself, I think we should return to the style of our forefathers, as much as possible within security parameters. Used to be citizens could simply wander up and talk to the pres, nearly any time. The citizens of the 1790’s through the 1840’s would have found all this pomp and ceremony for which you pine a chilling return to the kingly ceremonies of their discarded British monarch.

  2. Nickrud said

    Myself, I think we should return to the style of our forefathers, as much as possible within security parameters. Used to be citizens could simply wander up and talk to the pres, nearly any time. The citizens of the 1790’s through the 1840’s would have found all this pomp and ceremony for which you pine a chilling return to the kingly ceremonies of their discarded British monarch.

  3. Nickrud said

    My oh my, I think you totally missed the point of my comment. The part about security was a lament that we can’t return totally to the ‘way things were’

    The president is just a man, the office is an executive position in the government. Read up on just how the citizenry treated the President, the office, the White House in the first decades of the existence of the Country, and how the Presidents themselves handled those things. Tell me then what our forefathers actually thought of the office of the Presidency.

    And I’ll close with a definition of grandiose from the Merriam Webster dictionary, a word you yourself used to describe the ceremonies surrounding the president: “characterized by affectation of grandeur or splendor or by absurd exaggeration”. I kinda like the idea of removing an ‘absurd exaggeration’ from the office of our Presidency, and returning to the ideals of our forefathers where the President was just a man and didn’t cotton to all that frippery.

  4. Nickrud said

    You’re right, doing away with traditions simply for the sake of doing away with traditions is pointless and doesn’t make the country a better place. It would be very easy to go too far in reducing the ‘splendor’ of the Presidency, but for me personally I think it’s gone too far in the ‘splendiforous’ direction. I doubt that (and would hate it if it were true) we’ll never hear Hail to the Chief again, but I also think it should be more sparingly used. I would like to see it reserved to important situations, not every time he enters a room. I think you and I would have little problem coming to agreement on the most ridiculous occasions.

    Be well.

  5. Khorum said

    Get used to watching your most cherished institutions diminished and denigrated in this way. In fact, get used to it happening with little to no meaningful resistance.

    Obama represents the culmination of an entire generation’s campaign to diminish American Exceptionalism itself. The 60’s radicals who dedicated their lives and careers to that campaign proved that they were more determined and more committed to their cause than their conservative counterparts.

    And so because we allowed them to monopolize political instruction in every major university for close to four decades; because we allowed them to infiltrate virtually the entirety of our media apparatus; because we allowed them to occupy the highest echelons of our cultural sector via the so-called “creative class” in entertainment, we now get to watch their fondest iconoclastic dreams become reality.

    You think the band was bad? Be ready to see endowments for the ACLU that would dwarf the 2 billion ACORN got in this stimulus. Be prepared to have receive a 2010 Census that will be used to justify egregious budgeting abuses for “multicultural” federal subsidies for bilingual schooling, inner city housing and diminished federal support for rural communities.

    In fact, I’m not surprised he started by getting rid of the TRAPPINGS of tradition (like the band), since he knows that will rile conservatives in a predictable fashion. But that’s little more than his right hand misdirecting attention away from what his left hand is doing.

  6. Andrew Roman said

    I sincerely appreciate your comments. Well said. Thank you, Khorum!

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