Inauguration Open Thread

Rumor has it that Jill is present in the crowds in D.C., but the rest of us are watching the inauguration on the tube. What are your thoughts on the switch in power? Chris Matthews’ wacky commentary? Joe Biden’s goofy smile? Hillary Clinton’s cabinet seat? Bill Clinton’s yellow scarf? George Bush’s final exit? Obama’s historic seat at the table?


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52 comments for “Inauguration Open Thread

  1. January 20, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Is it just me or does Bush looked relieved?

  2. January 20, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I’m just blown away by the vast mass of humanity there – what is it, 1 1/2 miles?

  3. Kristen (The J one)
    January 20, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    God…always with the God. Arrrggghhhhhh!!!!!! Could we just possibly leave God out of it for a split second?

  4. January 20, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Kristen, did you hear Obama give a shoutout to “the non-believers” in his speech?

  5. apoptotic
    January 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Best Chris Matthewsism so far (paraphrased): “Obama has to know that the crowd is here for him.”

    Gee, Chris, why else would people attend a Presidential inauguration?

  6. Morningstar
    January 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    i have no clue how one earth public prayers are allowed during this ceremony.

    are there any legal experts that can explain this?

    it’s driving me nuts.

  7. January 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    i have no clue how one earth public prayers are allowed during this ceremony.

    I’m assuming because it’s a ceremony and not official business?

  8. January 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I’m assuming because it’s a ceremony and not official business?

    I remember the episode in West Wing where one of the regular staff (I forget who, it might have been Josh) said “you can be sworn in on a pile of playboy magazines if you want”

    I found myself wondering what the invocation would have sounded like spoken in Arabic, and “Allah” substituted for “God”.

  9. Dan in Denver
    January 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    It’s called the “civic religion” and the Supreme Court has long held that it doesn’t conflict with the Constitution. Justified by saying “because we said so” more or less, but still held.

  10. January 20, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I am excited and perturbed at the same time: It was great to hear such a historically informed (if historically incomplete) ceremony, but at the same time I’m concerned that a lot of the personal responsibility rhetoric is going to reinforce the by-your-own-bootstraps and American dream mythologies.

  11. January 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    An inauguration is official business, though; it’s mandated in the constitution, it’s organized by a joint congressional committee, and inauguration day is a federally recognized holiday in Washington DC and surrounding areas.

    The line between church and state has always been a fuzzy one, and few people take seriously the lawsuits that attempt to prevent Obama from say “God bless the United States of America,” but there has been considerable controversy for years over the “informal” addition of “so help me God” to the end of the presidential oath, which is not in the official oath, and which not every president has tagged onto the end. Just like how “under God” was not added to the pledge of allegiance until the 50s, it seems to be a relatively recent “sneak-in.”

    I’m grateful for the inclusion of “non-believers” at the end of the speech, but overall this nation has been backsliding away from its founding principles of secularity for many decades.

    That was a really good speech, though.

  12. January 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    An inauguration is official business, though;

    Okay, I was thinking “official” as in “legislative.”

  13. anna
    January 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    As a feminist, I’m not really thrilled with the talk about how our founding fathers drafted a charter to assure the rights of man. Not to mention that Rick Warren spoke at all (since he is on record as saying “God hates divorce” even in the case of physical abuse, and that wives should submit to their husbands, not to mention being anti-gay), but Rick’s insistence referring to God as male really annoyed me. Joseph Lowery, who also believes that God is male, managed not to refer to Him as such, so as to be more inclusive. Though even he mentioned that the “red man” should get ahead, man- I know it was only a joke, but surely he could have found another way to express it. And did you notice Dianne Feinstein was announced as the Chairman, rather than Chair or Chairwoman?

  14. DTG in STL
    January 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I’m just blown away by the vast mass of humanity there – what is it, 1 1/2 miles?

    From the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial is nearly 2 miles. The crowd was so massive that they had to start directing people to stand behind the Lincoln Memorial.

    We won’t have estimates for a few days, but this will easily SHATTER the LBJ record crowd of 1.2 Million people.

    Amazing.

  15. DTG in STL
    January 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    This is so cool… it switched at LITERALLY 12:01PM…

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/

  16. January 20, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    It hurts that I thought I had lost years ago the idea of the America I believed in as a child, the land of hope, and love, and freedom that was gone, and had never existed. It was wonderful to be able to reach out to others as they listened, to realize that so many share my dreams of a place where love, honor, respect, and true freedom are paramount.

    I cried as I realized that it might still happen at some point in the future.

    There are things that you can nitpick about, there are things that I wish were a little better, but I never knew what I had missed, never had someone that I could believe wanted to do something positive, to draw us forward in a sense of community, love, and hope.

    I’m fairly sure that Mr. Obama will do things I don’t like at some point, probably many things. It’s the nature of politicians. I know his policies are not what I would hold myself, but for once I’m ok with that, because my policies would not happen at all.

    Here is to 4 years, and hopefully they are good ones.

  17. January 20, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Anna: “although even he mentioned that the “red man” should get ahead, man- I know it was only a joke, but surely he could have found another way to express it.”

    I had to ask fellow Twitterers for confirmation on this, but I’m sure this was referencing an old civil rights saying that had been adjusted a bit to include more races/ethnicities. Song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZLw5ahxm-Q

    Some of my Twitter people are annoyed that although the speech/poem/prayers were trying to be inclusive as far as a historical perspective goes, it was really incomplete re: colonialism. I’m hoping some posts go up in the blogosphere on this topic in the next couple of days.

  18. Kristen (The J one)
    January 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Lauren,

    Yup…but Obama’s inclusion aside…both Justices inserted the “so help me God” and we had TWO prayers…at a governmental function….

  19. January 20, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    We have CNN playing constantly in our breakroom, and another tv set up that plays throughout the warehouse (I work in the office of a small warehouse), so they turned it to CNN instead of the usual easy listening (lol) for those who couldn’t stop to watch it, and I got to watch it in the breakroom, then we all had lunch a little early as a celebration! Free Subway woot! So that was nice. Love my awesome bosses.

  20. January 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Indeed, Kristen. That really bothers me. But, the good news is that he did mention “non believers” in his speech — no previous president has done that, and I found that pretty awesome.

  21. January 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I cried a bit, I haven’t yet determined why. Loved the crowd singing nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey goodbye to Bush as the helicopter took off.

    I think we do need to remember that there is no way that Obama can be all of the things that we wish he could be. I and many of the people I know tend to project our own desires onto him. Do you do it as well?

  22. ACG
    January 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    at the same time I’m concerned that a lot of the personal responsibility rhetoric is going to reinforce the by-your-own-bootstraps and American dream mythologies.

    I think that, taken to the extreme, that could be a problem, and we are certainly a country that loves to take things to the extreme. At the same time, though, Obama – pardon me, President Obama (w00t!) – has pretty much always couched the personal-responsibility thing in a context of public service and a responsibility to others. During his speech, he talked about extending opportunity “not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.” It was about opportunity, which someone does have to be personally motivated to take, but also about giving opportunity, which we should do because it’s best for everyone.

    Basically, what the conservative Christians preach but consistently fail to practice.

  23. ACG
    January 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Incidentally, I was watching the inauguration coverage on BBC America, and when Bush flew off in the-747-formerly-known-as-Air-Force-One, they were getting downright shirty. They talked about the plane making a slow, final circle around DC to give Bush a chance to take one last look and really think about the past eight years, how he will likely prove the least popular president in history, and on and on. I guess they’re so used to taking their own leaders to righteous task, it felt perfectly natural to give ‘er to our own former president on his way out.

    Not that I objected one little bit.

  24. Cactus Wren
    January 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Update: Senator Ted Kennedy has just been taken from the luncheon on a stretcher.

  25. January 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Cactus Wren,

    Robert Byrd too.

  26. January 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Oh no, Cactus Wren! :(

  27. January 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Wait … are you guys serious or are you making offensive agist jokes? Because I’m confused and my internets hate me today. yay work servers boo.

  28. January 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    OKAY FINALLY JEEZ. I see it wasn’t a joke. Was kind of hoping it was. Dang! Must’ve been too stressful :(

  29. January 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Amnesty International on Baracks first 100 days: Not looking for miracles

  30. Cactus Wren
    January 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    The only offensive joke I could possibly make at this point would be that only a Kennedy could possibly have upstaged the first African American President on Inauguration Day.

  31. January 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    LMAO, Cactus, how true that is!

  32. January 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I was there!!!! And it was amazing. FREEZING fucking cold, but amazing. I was in the standing room section behind the reflecting pool (the “silver” invitations, for anyone who was there). I couldn’t feel my extremities, it took me three hours to get back to my sister’s place in Columbia Heights, and I’m exhausted from standing for 4 hours and walking for 2 1/2 more, but damn it was worth it.

    I also scored a ticket to the Youth Ball tonight, so I have to locate a gown somewhere…

  33. Angela
    January 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I guess I’m the odd man out on this one. I’ve witnessed only one inauguration since I became a registered voter and that was back in 1981. I’m not terribly moved by presidential speeches.

  34. E.M. Russell
    January 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    This was the first inauguration I’ve watched and I thought it would be longer! I love how President Obama messed up his oath, how human! He does get a little righteous and preachy sometimes in his speeches, but I thought that the stumble was… humanizing? Comforting? Something good :) And yaaaay for a Democrat in the White House. Now we just need to get the Conservative Party out of power in Canada and we’ll be doing dandy.

  35. January 20, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    E.M., to be fair John Roberts fucked up the oath, too. But I agree, I loved seeing him make the best he could of the bullshit a Conservative who doesn’t know the constitution gave him. I hope it sets the tone for his presidency. ;)

  36. January 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Other inauguration highlights: The group of people who had come from Cameroon and Togo; getting stuck behind the Obama train on Saturday, which meant it took 5 hours to get to DC instead of three; and hearing the crowd at the inaug reserve the biggest loudest boos for Joe Lieberman (even John McCain was cheered for; Lieberman was booed all to hell).

  37. January 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Even legislative business is all god-ed up. They open every day in Congress with a prayer.

  38. January 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Unfortunately, all of our imprecations were for naught.

  39. Kathleen
    January 20, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t know — I loved that the cornball old guy at the inauguration was Joseph Lowery making a rickety civil right era joke. I actually laughed and got a little teary-eyed. Like, *that’s* the current version of the out of touch old guy — woohoo! Given the kind of out of touch old guy we’ve had to deal with in every previous generation, I can live with this version & smile all the way home.

  40. January 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Ye Gods, the paranoia! I’m writing about the address right now and Google found me this (first comment). I obviously don’t spend enough time at loony blogs that this flabbergasted me.

  41. CBrachyrhynchos
    January 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I’m not big on speeches or live coverage of events. It’s too damn hard to find something without commentary that drives me up the wall.

    I’ll just vent and say that my realization that the Bush Administration was not just going to be bumbling incompetent, but literally evil came when Elliot Abrams was appointed to the Orwellian position of “Human Rights Czar.” So I’m impressed by Obama but depressed as well, because the cockroaches are just going to find jobs with think tanks, universities, and news networks for another 8 years until we play it all again.

  42. Andromache
    January 20, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    God, I spent the entire inauguration holding my breath. And the only thing that really went wrong on camera was the mutual Obama-Roberts oath flub (and yes, the Freepers are already questioning whether Obama is legitimately president, god help us all).

    I was watching the inauguration in a big auditorium with a lot of students and staff from my college – when Obama said “nonbelievers” I muttered “THANK you!”, apparently much louder than I’d thought – because the entire auditorium turned and laughed with me.

    Didn’t care for Warren (didn’t think I would), but quite liked the benedicton. Poem was TERRIBLE, though.

    And of course Aretha, queen of soul, was fabulous.

  43. Kristin
    January 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    “I’m concerned that a lot of the personal responsibility rhetoric is going to reinforce the by-your-own-bootstraps and American dream mythologies.”

    Lauren: Yeah, I agree. I’m excited about this. I feel like a weight’s been lifted from our collective shoulders. I am a bit troubled by this kind of language as well, but I am hopeful that he is referring instead to the kinds of “irresponsible” profligate spending and consumerism that were ascendant during the Bush years. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s something of a fiscal conservative, but I’m… Well, I’m hopeful. He will undoubtedly disappoint us–and already has, but I’m trying to silence my inner critical voice and celebrate the fact that we now have an *intelligent* and generally likable president in the White House. At least until tomorrow.

  44. Kristin
    January 20, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Jill–I used to live around there, and I’m *so* sad that I missed it! I hope you’ll post pictures and write all about it once the excitement’s all over. Have fun at the ball!

  45. Eva
    January 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I was amazed by all the people and all the positive energy, and really really glad Bush is gone. I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic about Obama, and his speech did have some really good elements, but I worried about the bootstraps type business, and I worried about the romanticization of US history. Why must patriotism inherently involve so many lies and so much hero worship of flawed, mortal people? The ceremonial stuff and all of praise for our forefathers/ celebration of our country’s history didn’t feel historically informed to me so much as somewhat deliberately historically evasive (because I believe he knows better.) Did he really thank people who “settled the west?!” The religious stuff was also a bit grating– and for all that hoopla about Rick Warren, not only are his politics crappy, he’s a crappy preacher. And if I hear one more person talk about King’s legacy as if as of today, the civil rights movement is officially complete, I will scream. But the energy in DC was fabulous, and at least now we have an administration that doesn’t vilify thinking, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

  46. William
    January 20, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I’m still trying to digest the speech and get an accurate read on how, exactly, I feel. For now I’m trying, and mostly failing, to be cautiously optimistic. I guess I ought to be counted amongst the cynics at the moment, because between the progressive dog whistles and the pandering to the kinds of people that made Warren rich I’m feeling kind of ill.

  47. Kristin
    January 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I just watched the Warren prayer on youtube. It *is* curious that Warren gives the explicitly Christian Lord’s Prayer. Is it usually a little more ecumenical than that?

  48. urbanartiste
    January 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    It was a historic inauguration. It would have been nice to hear comments about the first lady other than her wardrobe. I just hope the same festivities occur when the first women, whatever race or religion she may be, is inaugurated.

  49. Jha
    January 20, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I think I found Rev. Lowery’s prayer more moving than President Obama’s, for some reason. I LOVED that joke he put in at the end! I’m not an especially religious person, but I felt spiritually included in that speech. It was lovely.

    Prz O’s speech was also moving. Loved that he mentioned “putting science back into its rightful place”. Beautiful. And those other little jabs he made at the previous administration. Love love love.

  50. January 20, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Cutest moment was when his youngest child (I still get their names mixed up) said “Daddy pick me up, I can’t see!” right after the swearing in.

    Just precious. :)

  51. chicagorose
    January 21, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Lauren says:
    January 20th, 2009 at 1:14 pm – Edit

    Anna: “although even he mentioned that the “red man” should get ahead, man- I know it was only a joke, but surely he could have found another way to express it.”

    I had to ask fellow Twitterers for confirmation on this, but I’m sure this was referencing an old civil rights saying that had been adjusted a bit to include more races/ethnicities. Song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZLw5ahxm-Q

    Hi. Didn’t click on the youtube link but am familiar with an old, old saying in the black community (have never heard it in song form) that goes somewhat thusly:

    If you’re black get back
    If you’re brown stick around
    If you’re yellow you’re mellow
    If you’re white you’re all right

    To my knowledge it was always meant to reference the color hierarchy in the black community as it relates to privilege.

  52. Cactus Wren
    January 21, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I just watched the Warren prayer on youtube. It *is* curious that Warren gives the explicitly Christian Lord’s Prayer. Is it usually a little more ecumenical than that?

    Yes: usually the pastor tries to present at least an appearance of inclusiveness. Not Warren: after hijacking the Shema he had to make sure everyone knew that the Our Father is America’s REAL! prayer, just as JEE-YAY-ZUS! is America’s REAL! god.

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