Inauguration Day

It’s like voting. It probably won’t matter but I always go. Today, what I noticed most was the Jersey barriers.

In 1981, I had a four-year old on my shoulders as we watched the Iranians release the hostages and Ronald Reagan take the oath. In 1985, when it was too cold to hold the event outdoors, Time Magazine ran a picture of that then-eight-year-old playing hockey on a pool on the Mall. There are stories for each, the last four of which took place in my now former office overlooking the White House. After two sedate George W. Bush parties, the 2009 crowd trashed the place though not nearly as badly as Andrew Jackson’s fans trashed the White House.  2013 will be the year of the Jersey barrier.

The life of a Jersey barrier is not fulfilling. It is somewhere between profoundly ugly and an eyesore. It spends much of its life in storage awaiting a few hours of making people angry. That is its job: making people angry.

In its drab, sullen way, a Jersey barrier sends the message “no, stay out, you can’t go there, do what you are told.” As my English friends would say, the Jersey barrier is “entirely fit for purpose.”

Unlovable as they are, I felt sorry for the thousands of Jersey barriers deployed throughout Washington today. They had nothing to do because almost nobody came.

The last four years of political cynicism have been unkind to many but few have seen the results more starkly than these unemployed eyesores with nothing to do.

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