Friday, January 16, 2009

The War of Conscience

I'm guessing you might have expected me to be thinking about President Bush's farewell message to America on this site today. It was blessedly brief - about 20 minutes. He began by calling the first years of this decade "a period of consequence" and "a time set apart." He ended by telling us - again - that he made the tough decisions, shunned public approval, and followed his conscience.
Conscience: (noun) 1. the sense of moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good 2. the part of the superego in psychoanalysis that transmits commands and admonitions to the ego
I am wistfully and gratefully pondering the arrival of a new conscience at the White House. I am hopeful that it is one that will make intelligent decisions, will trust the American people, and will listen to many voices...not just the circular swirl of the voices of id, ego, and superego. I am putting George W. Bush out of my mind. That has allowed energy to nurture a bit of an obsession over next Tuesday's inauguration...
  • The number of citizens expected on the Washington mall is a record setting 4-million (wow!).
  • The weather forecast for the day is partly cloudy and 30-degrees at swearing in (brrrr!).
  • There is a 69-page downloadable inauguration guide book (I've downloaded it).
  • There is a site to shop for inauguration commemorative gear (I've looked at it);
  • There are at least 30 inaugural balls scheduled Tuesday night, ten of which the President and First Lady are expected to attend (oh my!).
It seems my higher and better and most peace loving thoughts this morning are wandering around this conscience driven question: What will Michelle Obama be wearing Tuesday night? More specifically: What will it cost? If Google is serving me well today, there has been no leak of information about the First Lady's gown selection(s). In the absence of information, we have had much speculation though, including designer upon designer suggestions for what Michelle Obama should be wearing. Check out the designs at Women's Wear Daily, for one. I'm not sure what designers like Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, and Diane von Furstenberg charge for a ball gown, but I'm guessing I can't afford it. It's probably safe to assume 99.9% of the world wouldn't be able to afford one of those gowns either...even if they were going directly to the Smithsonian. We gave Sarah Pallin a lot of grief over what she spent on clothes. My conscience tells me we can't let ball gown spending go by without comment, either...if we claim to play fair. To date, Michelle Obama has been full of good surprises on the fashion front, spending much less than her counterparts on her clothes. She appeared on The View last summer in a $148 dress she'd bought at White House Black Market. She told Jay Leno last October that the dress she was wearing on his show was off the rack from J. Crew. That's not exactly bargain shopping, but even I would splurge on an outfit for national TV. Which makes me wonder...what defines splurge in our collective shopper's conscience these days? High dollar design houses? Saks? Neiman-Marcus? What would you do? If you were about to be photographed for the cover of every publication in the world, what would you be concerned about? Color? Style? World hunger? What will Michelle do? Does change we can believe in start at the inaugural ball(s), or the day after? Is her superego sending any admonitions to her ego as she looks at what the designers are drawing (and charging)? Has she stopped to compare the cost of her gown(s) to the cost of airlifting food to hungry, war-torn Gaza? Here's hoping the new First Lady shows up in something beautiful, reasonable, and thoughtful. Something that reflects her style, her elegance, and her conscience. Peace.

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