Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And So It Begins

Incredibly, I have now hit the wall on Inauguration coverage on TV and the internet, so I can only imagine how normal people must feel about it by now. I really don't think I can watch another dance at another Ball tonight, so it is clearly time to call it a day.

But what a wonderful day to have witnessed. I have struggled to devise some fitting words to sum up the meaning and impact of this day, but haven't come up with anything even remotely near the mark. But the following comes closer than anything I have seen to meeting that purpose, and this is what I want to say:

[He] is here not only to sweeten the air...but to clear the infected atmosphere of American history itself, tainted with official sins and inherited guilt. He would cleanse the Constitution...[h]e altered the document from within, by appeal from its letter to its spirit, subtly changing the recalcitrant stuff of that legal compromise, bringing it to its own indictment. By implicitly doing this, he performed one of the most daring acts of open-air sleight-of-hand ever witnessed by the unsuspecting. Every one in that vast throng...departed with a new thing in [their] ideological luggage, that new Constitution [he] had substituted for the one they had brought there with them. They walked off...under a changed sky, into a different America.

~ Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg

Today was a wonderful day. There will, alas, be days to come that are terrible, and some that will be unbearable. The world is not perfected by virtue of this day. But it is different. It is better. And under this changed sky, in this different America, we will draw strength from our common purpose. And we will prevail.

A Much-Needed Upgrade




This cracks me up - it reminds me of those "Hello, I'm a Mac" ads.

Obama's First Official Act

After escorting the Bushes from the Capitol, Barack Obama has completed his first official act, signing a Presidential Proclamation of National Renewal. And the quote from President Obama as he held the pen in his left hand and signed the document:

"I'm a lefty. Get used to it."

Spoken with a wry smile. YES!

Pandarus' Final Bow

Text message from the Inaugural Committee:

"Barack Obama is now the 44th President of the United States. Please stay & watch the parade on the jumbotrons. Encourage your neighbors to exit the Mall slowly."

And speaking of exits, President Obama is escorting Mr. and Mrs. Bush from the Capitol to the helicopter which will take them to Andrews Air Force Base and a plane waiting to carry them back to Texas. As George Bush departs the scene, I am forcefully reminded of these lines:

What verse for it? What instance for it? Let me see:

"Full merrily the humblebee doth sing
Till he hath lost his honey and his sting,
And being once subdued in armed tale,
Sweet honey and sweet notes together fail."

As many be here of Pander's hall, Your eyes half out, weep out at Pander's fall. Or if you cannot weep, yet give some groans,
Though not for me, yet for your aching bones...Till then I'll sweat, and seek about for eases,
And at that time bequeath you my diseases.

~ William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act V, Scene X

The Inaugural Address

After Chief Justice Roberts blundered his way through administering the Oath of Office, President Obama rises to speak.

Here's the part about challenge I expected at the outset: war, economic crisis, healthcare, failing schools, dependence on foreign energy, climate change.

And then comes hope over fear. "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of rebuilding America." "The stale political arguments of the past no longer apply." "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

And too many other priceless lines to transcribe here. A great speech, and a good beginning to the Obama administration. This president is up to the challenge. And so are we.

Yes, we can.

President Barack Obama

(The countdown is officially retired!)

Barack Obama has just been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. From head to toe, I am a solid mass of goose bumps.

Vice President Joe Biden

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 0

Joe Biden has just been sworn in as Vice President of the United States. As a Biden precinct captain during the campaign here in Iowa, I could not be more proud to know this man and to have supported him.

What a great day!

Almost Time

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 0

Almost everyone has taken their place on the rostrum now; Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are making their way to their seats, and President Bush is walking through the halls of the Capitol to the witness the swearing in. Interesting to see Vice President Cheney in a wheelchair...

The President-elect will arrive shortly!

Expectations for Obama's Inaugural Address

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 0

With his renowned gift of oratory, the expectations for Obama's inaugural address couldn't be higher, with most commentators expecting a combination of Jefferson's second inaugural, Lincoln's second inaugural, FDR's first, and JFK's inaugural all rolled into one.

No pressure.

Expect some astounding oratory, to be sure. But rather than get weedy about policy specifics, I think Obama's speech will endeavor to capture the essence of this day and its meaning for the country. Look for him to start out describing the challenges faced by the country at this moment, and work his way up to a thunderous conclusion about the ability of Americans to overcome any obstacle so long as they unite in common purpose.

The specifics will come during the State of the Union in a couple weeks' time.

The Senate Takes Its Place

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 0

The members of the Senate are now taking their seats in the stands on the West Front of the Capitol. Favorite moment so far: the entry of Iowa's own Chuck Grassly, holding aloft a video camera to preserve the moment.

Obama is on is way, and will arrive at the Capitol shortly. Wouldn't you know he's the only guy in Washington today not coping with traffic gridlock?

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