Amazing: Thoughts On The Inauguration

It’s January 20th, 2009, and in just a few more hours Barack Obama will officially be our 44th President of the United States of America.  I’m currently watching this on, and the first and foremost thing that hits you as you watch this spectacle is the people.  So many people.  It was expected that this would be the highest attendence of an inauguration in our history, but the intellectual understanding of a thing can’t possibly stand up to actually seeing it, experiencing it.

I’m watching the Mall, and the sheer enormity of the crowd is phenomenal, and the chants of “Yes We Can” and “U-S-A” send chills up your spine, even in the comfort of your own home.

I had no intention of doing a full on liveblog, but I will be updating this post regularly throughout the morning, and hopefully a little bit after with my thoughts on the events and the coverage as they unfold.  This, will take place below the fold, and I welcome you to join me, to leave comments, and share your thoughts and feelings as we watch this simply amazing event take place.

-Muhammed Ali enters, and Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann both go into his own special place in the journey that has led to this moment.  It’s strange to watch “The Greatest” now, bundled up, an old man.  Despite the palsy and the passage of time, I’ve never seen Ali as an old man until this moment.

-Axelrod is up now, and one thing I don’t think I’ve ever remarked upon during the course of the campaign, but I’m struck by this now is how humble the man carries himself for his job title.  He doesn’t look like the architect of a winning presidential campaign, but instead that guy in the office who’s only five years from retirement and trying to skate for the rest of his time.

UPDATE ( 10:22 ): It’s cold out there.  Balls cold.  For those of you who are acclimated to the colder climes out there, the temperatures below 20 degrees may not be that big of a deal, but for everyone else, this is ridiculously cold weather.  I’m three hours SOUTH of DC, and we’re expecting snow later today.  According to MSNBC, supposedly there is a time limit on how long you can stay out in weather like this, and from the sounds of things, a lot of the people crowding that mall right now have already exceeded that.  They don’t care–I’m doubting that a quarter of the people in that crowd even notice the cold at this point.

UPDATE ( 10:40):  TOUGH BASTARD!  Last year, I would have never bet that Senator Kennedy would have made it to the inauguration.  The Lion of the Senate just took his seat unaided, over an hour before the ceremony would start.  I say again, TOUGH BASTARD!

UPDATE ( 10:46 ): Karmic justice.  HA!  Cheney hurt his back moving into his retirement home, and is now wheelchair bound for the ceremony.

UPDATE (10:50): The President and the President Elect enter the limo heading for the big ceremony.  What do you think Bush’s little letter to Obama is?  “Good Luck”?  “Sucks To Be You”?

UPDATE ( 10:55 ): THANKS FOR PLAYING: Heh, Andrea Mitchell just tried her damnedest to get Governor Paterson to admit that Caroline Kennedy will in fact be the junior senator from New York.  FAIL.

UPDATE ( 10:56 ): If for some reason, this has not been real to you yet.  If the concept that Barack Obama will be president has been more of an abstract concept as opposed to a practice in political dynamics in work, watching the motorcade makes this so much more real than you could imagine.

UPDATE (11:00): Early in the primary season I dismissed presidential contenders from both parties using this thought.  The Presidents of the United States make up an incredibly inclusive club.  Over the course of this nation’s history, only 43 people have been members of that club.  Now when you look at a presidential hopeful, among all of the very real, very policy based, very tactile qualifications available, there’s this other requirement or standard.  Doesn’t this candidate *feel* as though they are a part of this club?

As we watch Obama and Bush leave the motorcade and take their place in the mall, it remains as evident now as ever before that this man, Barack Obama, seems almost destined to be a part of that club.

UPDATE: QUAYLE WATCH: Wow, we haven’t seen Dan Quayle in ages, and now that we get a glimpse… frankly… he looks like shit.

UPDATE: Ex Pres Walk:  Bush Sr. Looks old, but giddy.  I get this feeling as though he wants to give me some Werther’s Originals.  Jimmy Carter seems a lot more spry, and if you were to say one of those men were the president thirty years ago, and the other not even twenty years ago, you may be tempted to switch the two.  And then you have President Clinton, and Secretary of State Clinton.  The incoming SoS looks positively happy, but the former president is seemingly a little somber.

UPDATE: Brilliance of a theme.  As the official introductions of the former presidence gets underway, one thing that keeps getting repeated as the MSNBC anchors look at the embargoed speech, and we have talked to Axelrod and we’ve read news stories leading up to this day leaking thematic details.  Shared responsibility.  This is such a poignant concept to bring up, right now, as our government renews itself under the banner of democracy, and we stare out at all those hopeful faces, more than perhaps for any presidential inauguration in this country’s history.  It should be noted here and now, that it is this concept of shared responsibility, of taking an active and invested role in our democracy, without these things, this man would not be taking the oath of office in just under an hour.  Obama’s path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was paved on the hope and the work of millions of people who didn’t just believe in a single man, but instead in themselves and the very idea that their effort could affect the course of this nation and even the world.

For all the reasons why people have declared this a powerful and historic election, perhaps the most significant, more significant than even the racial implications involved, is the salvation of democracy, the revival of the idea that we all take part in the governance of this country as opposed to being little more than focus groups and targeted demographics in stylized, pro-sports-like national competition.  The power that I think is coursing through so many people right now is because in a way, Barack Obama was not the only person elected president, but somehow we all were.
UPDATE: Powerful Ladies.  Think about this for a moment, the wives are in their own rights incredible women.  Michelle Obama, of course, an accomplished lawyer, and was actually for a short time Obama’s superior in the same law firm when they first met, and then you have Jill Biden, who is, actually, DR. Jill Biden.  It’s just so astounding to me how far out of the first lady mold both of these exceptional women are.

Also, Bush received a pretty ugly reception from the crowd and you can tell that really wore pretty bad on his face.

UPDATE: The sound of millions of people shouting “Obama”… just… wow.

UPDATE: Rick Warren:  Forget what you know of the man, for just a moment.  If you are not a Christian, forget that lack of faith for just a moment.  I myself am not a Christian, and despite all of this, I found Pastor Warren’s invocation incredibly powerful.  And now, listening to Aretha Franklin, it’s just… watching old men saluting, old women with tears streaming down their faces, this is just more enormous than words alone could ever convey.

UPDATE: And as of this moment, Barack Hussein Obama is now our 44th President of the United States.

14 Responses to “Amazing: Thoughts On The Inauguration”

  1. Kathy says:

    The moment of our liberation is at hand. Three hundred million people are about to be liberated.

  2. Kathy says:

    “Change comes when there’s pressure from the outside.” What Doris Kearns Goodwin just said. That’s a great line.

  3. Kathy says:

    Chris Matthews: “Some presidents are intrinsically interesting. George Bush is just not interesting.”

    And now that fool, David Gregory, is talking.

  4. Kathy says:


  5. OH!

    I was making updates in the body!

  6. tas says:

    I will say what I said in the fourth coming CommentsCast about liveblogging the inaugration: “LOL OMG”. And no I’m off to a bar that has television, burgers, and beer. The rest of ya have fun. 🙂

  7. Well, I contribute so little to this blog on a day-to-day basis anymore, I almost felt like I kinda had to do this.

  8. Kathy says:

    Ohmygod. He is President of the United States.

  9. “Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you can destroy.”

  10. I’m pretty much a blubbering mess right now.

  11. I’ll type some thoughts later on tonight, I think, but for now, I’m pretty much done.

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