From the moment slave owners declared all men to be created equal, American politics has fostered an interesting relationship between truth and representation. Successful politicians seem to find ways to reconcile the schism in the minds of the electorate. They speak in metaphor and yet we call it plain speaking. They use symbolism and yet we call it authenticity.
For those inclined to think about such things, Tuesday's inauguration provided a few hiccups that might at first be dismissed as "things not going smoothly," but really offer us a glimpse between the seams.
First, there was the live quartet that didn't play live. Would it have been better had we been told the musicians would be simulating an earlier performance? Would we rather have heard the recording without all the false gestures? Should the performance have been scrapped if the musicians couldn't play live? If you enjoyed the performance of the performance, does it really matter?
Then there was the fumbled oath of office - Which has more meaning to us, word order or speaker's intent? Does speaking a word out of order do more damage to the oath's authenticity than adding words that aren't in the text? Does a second oath lack potency if it wasn't broadcast on television the way the first oath was? What if Obama had taken the second (or even the first) oath in private - the Constitution makes no demand that the oath be taken publicly?