Gazillions of Americans descended on Washington. The rest of us were watching on TV or checking out streaming video on our computers. No one was paying attention to anything else. Every pundit in sight was nattering away all day long, as they will tomorrow and, undoubtedly, the next day about whatever comes to mind until we get bored. And in the morning, when this post is still hanging around in your inbox, you’ll be reading your newspaper on… well, you know… the same things: Obama’s speech! So many inaugural balls! Etc., etc.
So I’m thinking of this post as a freebie, a way to lay out a little news about the world that no one will notice. And all I can say — for those of you who aren’t reading this anyway, and in the spirit of the clunky 1951 sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still — is: Klaatu barada nikto!
Okay, no actual translation of that phrase (to the best of Wikipedia’s knowledge) exists. We do know that, when invoked, the three words acted as a kind of "fail-safe" device, essentially disarming the super-robot Gort (which arrived on the Washington Mall by spacecraft with the alien Klaatu). That was no small thing, since Gort was capable not just of melting down tanks but possibly of ending life on this planet. Still, I remain convinced, based on no evidence whatsoever, that the phrase could also mean: "Whew! We’re still here!"
Though I skipped the recent remake of the film, which bombed (so to speak), I consider this post my remake, though with a slightly altered title:
January 20, 2009: The Day the Earth Still Stood.
Klaatu barada nikto has, by the way, been called "the most famous phrase ever spoken by an extraterrestrial." After watching the final press conference of George W. Bush, I wonder.
Now, whether Bush was the extraterrestrial and Dick Cheney the super (goof-it-up) robot, or vice-versa, is debatable, but whatever the case, let’s celebrate the obvious: We’re still here, more or less, and they’re gone. Dick Cheney to fish and shoot. George W. to think big, big thoughts at his still-to-be-built library. Let’s face it, on the day on which Barack Obama has taken the oath of office, that constitutes something of a small miracle. But a nagging question remains: just how small?