Blogging the Inauguration: Notes from the Ceremony

Various luminaries appear on the jumbotron. Colin Powell gets cheers. George H.W. Bush looks old. John McCain talks to a very tall man. Joe Lieberman is heartily jeered, and at some length. There is clearly no love lost for Joe.

Michelle Obama looks amazing. The girls are beautiful. Dick Cheney is in a wheelchair. Someone mentions Dr. Strangelove.

***

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The presidential motorcade comes into view. The lady next to me comments, "Wow, it looks like just a row of hearses." I think about moving.

***

George W. Bush appears for the first time. A strained, mixed reaction. Quite a few boos, but that reaction is clearly not well received by the group. The preferred response seems to be a silent civility.

The crowds behind entertain themselves with rounds of "Nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, hey-hey-hey, goodbye." I feel like I’m at a White Sox game.

***

The announcer asks the crowd to please be seated. Those standing jeer loudly. Everyone laughs.

***

Barack Obama appears onscreen, walking slowly out to meet us. At times he looks as though he is about to receive some very bad news. He stops on the stairs and takes a very deep breath before proceeding.

He emerges. Crowd goes wild.

***

The ceremony begins. Aretha Franklin reminds everyone why she is the Queen of Soul. Many tears.

***

Rick Warren gets really worked up. He also offers some nice prayers. My favorite: "Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity."

***

Vice Presidential oath of office. Biden punches "So help me God."

***

Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and some other guy play a song composed for the occasion by John Williams. It has a very poignant, almost funereal introduction -- touches something deep. Hints of the old American Shaker song, "Simple Gifts" emerge.

And then suddenly the song collapses into merry rounds of the Shaker song. All I can think is "Dance, dance, wherever you may be." Seems to kill the mood.

***

Presidential Oath. Obama stutters at one point: apparently, the Chief Justice has the text wrong. I wonder if it’s still valid, or whether it could be grounds for annulment later. I’ve had too much exposure to canon law.

At this of all times, the mind wanders. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could annul a president?

The cynic within reminds me, it’s called a general election. 2004, everybody, where were you?

Jim McDermott, S.J.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years 10 months ago
Good comment about where were you 4 years ago...it's like people just realized they had a voice.
8 years 10 months ago
"The crowds behind entertain themselves with rounds of "Nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, hey-hey-hey, goodbye." I feel like I'm at a White Sox game" Ironic that the crowds who were quick to point to Bush's immaturity and uncivility could only manage the same today. From what I caught on the TV, they even managed to boo Laura Bush. Whatever for? What Chesterton said about those seeking change seems apt here: "The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right."

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