You’ve got to love the 21st century. The magic of technology means I can present you live video from the inauguration right here:
I’ll be updating this post throughout the morning and early afternoon with reflections and commentary on the inauguration. I invite you to jump into the comments section and add your own thoughts.
8:50 a.m.: I know my conservative friends will mock me using phrases like “The One” and “The Messiah,” but so be it: Today feels a little bit like a secular holiday to me. I even dressed up a bit, putting on a tie for the first time since … July? What can I say? History is happening today, and I guess I didn’t want to greet it with my usual slovenliness.
9:02 a.m.: So … Hulu is using the feed from Fox News. Somebody’s funnin’ with me.
9:08 a.m.: Shepard Smith says this event is even bigger than the Yankees winning the World Series.
9:09 a.m.: Shepard Smith: “The elephant in the room is that many of these faces are faces of color.” I don’t think that metaphor was properly applied.
9:30 a.m.: Conservatives are right to mock elements of this video — it’s a little undemocratic (and a little creepy) to pledge yourself as a servant of the new president.
On the other hand, it seems to me that there’s also a spirit to the video that — Obama worship aside — conservatives should recognize and embrace. Instead of saying, “We’ve got the president we want! Now he and the government can make everything better!” the celebrities are urging individual action to improve communities and society. There might be some disagreement on some of the aims (stem cell research being prominent in what was mentioned) but a lot of the others seem to be agreeable to just about everybody. What’s wrong with that?
9:35 a.m.: Mike Huckabee thinks Rick Warren is good for the inaugural invocation because he’s sold a lot of books.
9:38 a.m.: Everytime I refresh my blog page, I have to watch the Paul Blart: Mall Cop advertisement again. I’m sorry, people.
9:51 a.m.: Barack and Michelle Obama just exited their morning church service and went into the presidential limo. Which seems a lot more presidential than the SUV he’s spent so much time in.
Also: D-Mac will also be live-blogging. Expect more snark than you’ll get here.
9:55 a.m.: The Obamas arrive at the White House, greeted by the Bushes. Looks like Michelle brought a gift for the Bushes! How sweet! They’re going to go inside and have a pre-inauguration coffee together — a tradition. I wonder if President Bush has a nickname for President Obama? Seems like the smart thing to do would be to not.
9:57 a.m.: I’m not sure, but it sounds like the Episcopal Boys Choir is singing one of those boys choir songs that Michael Corleone loved in The Godfather Part II. “My offer is this, Senator: Nothing. And I’d appreciate it if you put up the licensing fee for the casino yourself.”
9:58 a.m.: OK. It’s possible I’ll be snarky from time to time.
10 a.m.: Shep Smith says that “trains, planes and automobiles” have made their way to D.C. for the inauguration. Also: The ghost of John Candy.
10:09 a.m.: Switched over to the AP live video feed. Nothing against Fox News, but … OK, I can’t lie. I didn’t want to watch Fox News, and you probably didn’t either.
10:17 a.m.: Although the AP is now wallowing in the failures of the Bush years. This is just time-filler, I realize, but I don’t really feel like looking back today. I mean, I agree that the Bush years were failed. But it’s time to look forward.
10:20 a.m.: AP analyst: At least FDR could end prohibition and let people drink their problems away. Barack Obama doesn’t have a similar silver bullet, apparently. Or does he?
10:34 a.m.: By the way — why is Jon Stewart crapping on Philly?
Maybe it’s because he’s a Mets fan.
10:45 a.m.: By the way, word is that Dick Cheney hurt his back “lifting boxes” and will attend the inaugural in a wheelchair. We have the first photo:
10:48 a.m.: And… Bush and Obama get into the presidential limo together to go to the swearing-in.
Lots of talk on the TV right now about how great it is that we in America can change leadership without a military coup or bloodshed. And sure, that’s great, but let me suggest: It’s nothing to congratulate ourselves about anymore. Sure: When the Constitution passed, national leaders generally seized power or inherited it. But at this point in history, being able to change leaders without bloodshed seems to be a prerequisite for having a stable and productive country. If we were in genuine danger of bloody coups from time to time, then I’d understand. Given our history, though, it’s a pretty weird thing to be proud of.
10:56 a.m.: APTV is now interviewing a guy named “Striker” from Philadelphia. He’s apparently a Steelers fan. BOOOOOOOO! Also he’s wearing Mork from Ork attenae on top of his head. Philly represent.
11 a.m.: AP reporter observes that the speakers’ podium still pretty white. It’s only when you get to the “cheap seats” that the crowd gets a little more varied.
11:03 a.m.: The Supreme Court justices make their way onto the podium. I have to admit that I miss William Rehnquist for one thing: The stripes on the sleeves of his robe.
It was a silly affectation, but it was also kind of charming.
11:11 a.m.: Dan Quayle!
11:13 a.m.: Rush Limbaugh is apparently staying true to form.
11:19 a.m.: Grudging respect for this blog entry from The Weekly Standard: “Obama will keep President Bush’s custom-made Oval Office rug. It really ties the room together.”
11:21 a.m.: The White House website, at least, is still firmly under the control of the Bush Administration:
We’ll see how quickly that changes.
11:25 a.m.: And the Obama girls make their way out to the podium. Goodness, they’re poised! However, we can do with a little bit less of the “America’s darlings” commentary. I don’t want to know that much about them. Or their puppy.
11:26 a.m.: Tweet from Kessler: “I want to watch the inauguration alone because I don’t want people to see me tear up.”
11:32 a.m.: Tweet from parkview: “Obama is unelectable.”
11:35 a.m.: George W. Bush takes the podium for the last time as president. “Hail to the Chief” one last time. Eight years. Goodness. Eight years.
11:41 a.m.: Obama won’t wear an overcoat. He actually wanted to take the oath without a shirt, while firefighters sprayed him down with water in the freezing weather. But the Secret Service nixed that.
11:43 a.m.: Apparently streaming video gets a little twitchy when everybody in the United States is trying to watch it at the same time.
11:44 a.m.: Obama takes the stage. “Barack H. Obama” is the introduction. Ixnay on the Usseinhay?
11:49 a.m.: Rick Warren’s invocation. Let’s see what he does here. When’s the last time somebody with a goatee spoke at an inauguration?
Apparently, Warren has to tell God about this Obama character. But there’s a little plug for environmental consciousness there. Overall: A good prayer, if you’re OK with prayers at these kinds of things. It’s not like he was going to advocate against gay marriage at this particular event.
It was a pretty specifically Christian prayer, though. That’s what you get when you invite the country’s most famous evangelical to the stage.
11:54 a.m.: Aretha! Already, a better presidency! This is change I can believe in! Too bad Ray Charles isn’t around to do his version of “America.”
11:58 a.m.: Joe Biden takes the oath. DON’T SAY ANYTHING STUPID, JOE!
11:59 a.m.: He didn’t say anything stupid. Whew! Only four more years of hoping that.
12:02 p.m.: Listening to “Simple Gifts.” The White House website appears to be in transition right now. The old Bush stuff is not coming up right this second, but neither is the new Obama stuff.
12:05 p.m.: Tweet from FuzzyDicePHL: “So Biden is technically Bush’s VP for a few minutes. I bet he feels sooo dirty.”
12:06 p.m.: The website is now Obama’s.
12:07 p.m.: Some speaking flubs, but nevermind. Congratulations, President Obama. Congratulations America!
12:09 p.m.: GAH! Streaming video is breaking up.
Obama thanks President Bush for his service to the nation. Polite applause.
12:12 p.m.: (Paraphrasing) The challenges will be hard to meet, and it will take awhile to solve them. But we’ll solve them. And we’ll do it at the same time we put aside the pettier elements of our politics.
12:13 p.m.: “In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand greatness is not a given. It must be earned.” Amen.
12:14 p.m.: Jim MacMillan posts his photo of Philly celebrating the inauguration.
12:29 p.m.: I decided to shut up during the speech. Here’s the text. Some of the highlights, for me, at least:
A president cannot save our souls. Whatever else he is, President Obama is not a messiah. But I find that I’m grateful for this moment — not just because America has proven its greatness by electing a black man to lead the government, but because he seems to be the right man for the moment: Somebody willing to be honest about the difficulties ahead instead of glossing over them, but somebody also willing to think big (and differently) about how to meet those challenges. For the first time in some time, I feel optimism.
12:42 p.m.: And I’ll let that be the end of my inauguration commentary. Everybody go have some fun and revel in this historic moment. Tomorrow: The work begins. And there will be few warm fuzzies to spare.
Uncategorized, aretha franklin, barack obama, dick cheney, fox news, george w. bush, inauguration, jon stewart, michelle obama, mike huckabee, rick warren, shep smith