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As noted below, I didn't expect Vietnamese to be very deeply concerned with Obama's formal inauguration today, but I wasn't quite prepared for the depth of the indifference I actually encountered from the man-on-the-street today.
Here's a non-random, unscientific sampling of public opinion:
Mr. Tran Xuan Hien, 53, retired railway worker: "During his election campaign, I was interested for a while. When he won, at first I thought it might be good for the US to have a black president, because I thought a black president would be less aggressive and love peace. But I was very disappointed when he didn't say anything to stop the violence in the Gaza strip. He should have raised his voice, but instead, he just keeps silent, so I am very disappointed in his ignorance. To be honest, I don't care what relations between the US and Vietnam will be like in Obama's term."
Mr. Nguyen Duc Hung, 21, university student: "I am happy the U.S. has a black president, because it will have a good influence in Vietnam. Vietnamese Communist Party leaders can not say discrimination is very bad in the US because people will not believe it, they will see a black man has become the US's president."
Ms. Tran Thi Lan, 30, flower seller: "What are you asking me? O Ba Ma? Who is he? Is he Vietnamese? Oh, he's the President of the United States. I've never heard of him, it's not worth my time to know about him. But if you buy my flowers, maybe tomorrow I'll have something to tell you about Obama."
Ms. Nguyen Thu Huong, 33, pharmacist: "Whether he's black or white, he's still American, and American presidents are all the same, they love wars and hate peace. Look at the examples of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. Who has started wars besides US presidents?"
Mr. Nguyen Van Hai, 24, taxi driver: "Why don't you ask me how much money I'll get for Tet? Why don't you ask about my life? My company's Tet bonuses? Sorry, I don't care about Obama or any other American president."