Our CNN colleague, David Gergen, was giving a seminar on presidential speechwriting the day before the inauguration, and he said something that stuck: "One of Barack Obama's biggest challenges," he said, is to "keep patience alive." That original turn of phrase, keep patience alive, brought me back more than 20 years, to a rally I covered in Harlem, for the man whose mantra was "keep hope alive."
The event, on Malcolm X Boulevard, was for Democratic Presidential Candidate Jesse Jackson. To be a Jackson supporter required a lot of hope and patience. Jackson was late, as usual. Very late. The crowd waited for a half hour, an hour, an hour and a half. Patience was running out. To prevent a mutiny, the organizers started a chant of "Run Jesse, Run." One supporter finally lost patience and left muttering "Damn Jesse, Damn."
Attending the inauguration of Barack Obama required enormous patience among the million plus who attended. Getting into the inauguration grounds, ticket in hand, took hours. And there were very few good views to be had once you got beyond the gates. But that didn't matter.