My Dear America:
Inauguration Day has finally come to America. There have been Great Expectations regarding this day and its significance to you, America. Great Crowds had been expected. They came and in a show of respect that may have overshadowed the entire day's activities, millions of spectators kept silent not only when Barack Obama took the oath of office but also when he gave his Inauguration speech. The crowd was massive but conducted themselves with dignity honoring the first Black American to ever be sworn in as President of the United States. Certainly security was incredibly tight for this celebration of the installation of our new President. But even with security at unbearable levels, according to those in town for the celebration, there were no arrests or terrorist threats uncovered, that we know of.
Although I gave serious consideration to actually attending the Inauguration in person, I finally decided that I would be able to truly see more of the proceedings on television than in the frigid Washington crowd. There will probably always be part of me that regrets my decision not to go but today I felt truly lucky not to be freezing while watching everything from my living room.
Barack's speech was not the best speech he has ever given or I am sure will ever give. It wasn't the barn burning kind of speech that he is capable of giving and had given on the campaign trail and at the Denver Democratic Convention. It was, however, a very good speech given by a very great orator. Moreover it was a speech that was appropriate for the day and time it was given. Barack Obama was not looking to trot out catch phrases that Americans now and in the future would treasure. He recognized that the time in which he was being inaugurated was a time of difficulties and struggle in our economy, in our foreign policy and in many other aspects of American life. He didn't have to give a speech to sway the massive crowd before him and on television. He had already done that. There were some shameful voices that would pray for his failure and worse but they were on the outside edge of The New American Dream today and clearly the days were numbered for these nattering nabobs of negativism.
It was truly a new day in Washington, D.C. today and every Republican, as well as Democratic Politician knew it. The Democrats had hit the political Trifecta. They were not only in charge of the White House but the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well. As of Tomorrow Barack Obama will no longer have to hold his tongue when asked a question about what he is going to do to fix Washington and the rest of the country. No longer will he have to talk about our country having only one President at a time. He is now that One President and it is his Administration which will now, after I am sure a brief honeymoon period of patience and understanding, be expected to come up with the solutions to some very difficult and complex problems. Surely Americans will give him some room to address the issues of our time but our 24 hour cable networks being what they are will be looking for things to happen tomorrow. Indeed, we will all be looking for at least some direction as to where we are headed if not tomorrow then sometime soon.
Barack's Inauguration speech at least gave some indications of which roads we might be heading down and what problems and programs are at the top of his priority list. He also seemed to throw somewhat of an olive branch to some of those in the world who we might see as enemies of the United States of America. It was a moving and a stirring, well written and well executed speech given with integrity and honor on this historic day.
As cameras panned around the mall in front of the capitol there were people from many places, men and women, boys and girls, black and white and many other shades of American color. Many black faces were shedding tears for themselves, as well as for others who had suffered the abuse and violence of America's past sins. On this day those blacks who had not made it to the Promised Land needed to be represented and celebrated by those who had made it. It was, indeed, a historic day for so many reasons.
While Barack Obama on this historical occasion enjoyed a popularity in polls that seemed, at least at this point, to be unmatched by any other President, there was another man who when Barack took his oath of office lost his power. George Bush, whether or not he was happy or sad on this occasion of Barack's Triumph, seemed to be putting on a good front. Although Bush seemed to have presided over a Presidency of one monumental error after another he had done one thing right. Except for not letting Barack and his family move into Blair House prematurely, George and Laura Bush seemed to be hospitable hosts when they showed the incoming family around and on Inauguration Day George and Laura seemed to be putting on a good face as they and their party lost the right to live in the White House.
I was in our bedroom when my wife shouted to me that George Bush was leaving on a plane. I'm not sure if it was the helicopter or if it was Air Force One taking him home.
I had tried after the Supreme Court virtually crowned Bush President that I would at least try to accept him and give him some respect in the hope that he would deserve it. That acceptance didn't last long although I did give Bush credit for going after Al Quida in Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks. But then, as he had planned to do all along, he swaggered his way into the quicksand of Iraq, from which you, America, have yet to emerge unscathed.
As Bush's helicopter and later his plane reached for the sky it was wonderful for Americans to realize that the long national nightmare of Bush's Cowboy Presidency was over. On this day in January 2009 the legacy of Bush's Nightmare Presidency was not over with even though he himself would be out of D.C. and back in Texas.
After the Inauguration Ceremony with musical Presentations by Aretha Franklin singing "My Country Tis of Thee" and an All Star Chamber Music Quartet, Barack and Michelle attended a dinner with Congress in the Capitol. Although reporters were not allowed to photogragh the proceedings, it was widely reported that Barack worked the room going around from table to table like a groom might work a wedding reception. Unfortunately before the dinner was over Barack had to explain that shortly after Barack visited Ted Kennedy's table Senator Kennedy, an early and important Barack supporter in the primaries, collapsed and was hospitalized following a seizure. Senator Robert Byrd, the oldest serving Senator also apparently collapsed, as well.
Clearly the health problems of these two long time, important Democrats was not good news for Obama but the show had to go on and it did.
The Inauguration Ceremony, as well as the ride and walk down Pennsylvania Avenue showed America that they had elected a very good looking family to live in the White House. Michelle, who had expressed reservations about Barack running in the early days certainly seemed to be over her initial concerns, at least for this day. She and Barack looked like a healthy young couple going on a romantic walk through Washington. And their kids. Who wouldn't love those beautiful, well mannered, parent loving and respecting children.
As the minutes of Inauguration Day ticked away it seemed like the entire country had just enjoyed a breath of fresh air and was continuing to try to hang on to it. At the Inauguration balls that the Obamas visited prior to the end of January 20th they danced to "At Last" being sung by Beyonce. The list of performers at the balls seemed like a Whos Who of popular musical stars. Springsteen and "The Dead" (a band made up of surviving members of "The Grateful Dead") played. Sheryl Crow, Fall Out Boy, Kid Rock. Kid Rock? Isn't he a Republican.
Although Barack Obama did not appear to have the best sense of rhythm in the country as he and Michelle began to visit the Inaugural Balls, they certainly seemed to be a couple that was in love and would support each other as the Obama Administration became a reality. Barack and Michelle were clearly having fun with one another on Inauguration night but both knew that this day would soon be over and the first work day of the Obama Administration would come to replace it.
But for now they had and would always have the memories of this day and it had been a wonderful sunny, cold and event filled day. It had been a day that in the words of "Walter Cronkite" in describing past events "would alter and illuminate our time".