Sunday, July 13, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

UPDATED: America's "ideals still light the world" -- the inauguration of Barack Obama

UPDATED: America's "ideals still light the world" -- the inauguration of Barack Obama

1:00: Well, it was worth the wait. The inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States had something for everyone. That includes his critics, who will surely seize on his flubbing of the oath (twice!) as some kind of grand metaphor about what they see as a blend of cockiness merged with unreadiness. (And yes, he should have practiced that part of day). But as Sigmund Freud once said, sometimes a flubbed oath is just a flubbed oath.

UPDATE: Actually, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who did the main flubbing.

Beyond that, the day was a remarkable mural of American diversity -- bracketed by reminders of the civil rights struggle that set the stage for the arrival of Obama, the soulful belting of Aretha Franklin and the hard-knock wisdom of Joseph Lowrey. They also framed a nation that include the likes of a Yo Yo Ma, an Elizabeth Alexander, and (sigh) a Rick Warren.

But the real message of the day was...the message. There are two things that Barack Obama wants America and the world to know, and he delivered it with great power. First and foremost, the old America is back, the America that respects science and invention -- and human rights. Many of us have waited eight long years to hear a commander-in-chief utter these words:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

The problem is those eight destructive years have also made Obama's task so much harder -- and so much of his speech needed to focus on the sacrifices and tough decisions ahead. In many ways, the 44th president closed the door on the philosophy of Reaganism that was ushed in by the 40th, a turning away from easy decisions to led to a national borrowing bender that we need to begin paying back:

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

Today was the easy part. The difficult task starts tomorrow.

12:59: Bush gets his long-awaited Nixon moment on Marine One. Crowd is signing that Steam anthem again.

12:40: Powerful closing benediction here from a powerful figure, famed civil rights leader Joseph Lowrey. Now the National Anthem, and I'll have some closing thoughts in a moment.

12:31: From the transcript, key passage:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

12:21: "The world has changed, and we will change with it." Many shout-outs to science, to environmentalism and doing something about global warming. Change is really here.

12:19: To terrorists: "We will outlast you and we will defeat you." Tells Muslims he wants a new way forward based on "mutual respect."

12:18: To the world: "America is ready to be a leader again."

12:14: "The question today is not whether our government is too big or too small but whether it works."

12:14: "Starting today, we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of re-making America."

12:10: Getting the bleak news out of the way first, then going for the FDR moment. Now he's praising the "risk takers" -- although I assume that doesn't include the ones on Wall Street?

12:09: Speech time. Obama thanks Bush "for his service." Period.

12:05: Oops! For all the talk about how cool and collected Obama is, he kind of botched the oath there -- twice. Plus five minutes late -- but it has finally happened: Barack Obama is president.

12:01: Where were you when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States?

12:00: I think Itzhak Perlman (sp?) and Yo Yo Ma are technically now the acting presidents.... 

11:57: Biden time! I hear he plagiarized this oath from John Adams.

11:53: The Queen of Soul is in the House! Now that's change we can believe in -- Aretha Franklin letting freedom ring!

11:48: Smattering of applause for Pastor Rick Warren, the first goatee wearer to ever speak at a presidential inauguration. After all the controversy over Warren's views on homosexuality, he seems to be leaning heavily on the first African-American card, playing to the crowd. Will he still be talking at noon?

11:45: Interesting -- the president-to-be is introduced as "Barack H. Obama." The first of many compromises.

11:43: The most amazing sight is the sea of American flags -- isn't Obama the guy that the likes of George Stephanopolous were asking a few months ago whether he or not he loves his country? Seems all a tad silly now, doesn't it?

11:40: This really is like a sporting event -- Cheney and Bush and the Republicans are "the road team,"and were booed as such.

11:35: Most memorable moment, for better or worse, is the sound of two million people singing "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" (the 1969 hit by Steam, for you fellow music trivia buffs. The irony is that the song was made into a sports anthem by fans of the Chicago White Sox -- Obama's team.

11:30: New official part of the inauguration: Introduction of the Mother-in-Law of the President of the United States.

I kind of like the idea that they have no clue how many people are there -- some numbers are better left to the imagination.

11:22: Apparently they're 15 minutes late with the intros, etc. -- hope we don't go 15 minutes without a president! The real stars of the day are the people -- it's truly amazing to see the camera shots of how large the crowds are, people who stood on line for 90 minutes so they can stand around on a chilly day for three or four hours. Just to be able to say they were there.

11:17: Here comes George H.W. Bush, described as "walking old" by Olbermann on MSNBC, and now Bill and Hillary -- Bill described accurately as "looking somber," perhaps contemplating the First Man-ship that was not to be.

10:57: Pepsi gets some kind of an award for doing an ad -- the slick new "My Generation" slot -- that ties into Obama without really being about Obama. I guess Pete Townsend needs money for all those legal bills.

Atrios makes a funny.

Intro post is below the picture.

10:40: OK, even on the beaches of India they're excited about this -- and thus so are we. Today is one of those rare moments in America where everything else melts away for a few hours (Even the Super Bowl?....even the Super Bowl) and so we'll bring you a few highlights between now and early afternoon, particularly the ceremony at noon and the speech to follow.

David Gergen....punditry machine. Does that guy sleep on the cot at CNN's D,C. bureau.

On another note, I don't think it's a day for dwelling too much on the soon-to-be-departed, but how weird is news of Dick Cheney's bad injury? Moving boxes? I thought that being vice president was like those H&R Block ads, that you have "people." We wish Cheney good health and a speedy recovery -- healthy enough to be prosecuted for the war crimes he committed during the last eight years, even if the word on the street is that's not going to happen.

About this blog

Will Bunch
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected