1:00: I listened again to the oath. In fact, Roberts puts "faithfully" after "President of the United States" the first time as well as the second. And I've set up a separate post to discuss the great Oath Botch of 2009.
12:53: The Obamas walk the Bushes to the helicopter. There are warm gestures and embraces. I wish the address itself had shown similar respect to Mr. Bush.
12:37: The Chief Justice in fact screwed up the oath. The Constitution requires:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."Roberts left out the word "faithfully." (He also said "President to the United States.") Obama saw the mistake and stopped himself to give Roberts a chance to fix it. Roberts redid the line, remembering to throw in "faithfully," but putting it in the wrong place — after "President of the United States" — and, this time, Obama went along with the wording. Close enough, I guess he figured. I wonder what Barack Obama was thinking. Maybe: Some textualist you turned out to be!
12:28: "Someone is stitching up a hem"... someone is inflicting poetry on us.
12:26: To my ear, the address wasn't particularly interesting or inspiring. It listed problems, promised solutions, and then went on about an icy stormy journey to freedom. Eh. Anyway, my big question is: Who screwed up the oath, Roberts or Obama? Did Roberts get the words wrong, then compound the error by trying to correct Obama when Obama had it right?
12:25: Here's a new post to talk about the address — which had a lot of storm imagery.
12:18: To the world he says: "We are ready to lead once more." That's an unbecoming attack on George Bush.
12:14: "We will harness the sun" = first comically grandiose statement of the new Prez.
12:11: The inaugural address begins on a strikingly sour note. We have so many problems. In the election we chose hope over "fear" — rather harsh toward John McCain. And now it's time to "put aside childish things." That is a Biblical reference, but in context, he seems to be calling the previous administration childish. Or is he referring to the partisan squabbles, in which case it's most properly a swipe at his own party?
12:05: "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear..." Obama inverts some words, and there's some incongruous flubbing of the oath around the placement of the word "faithfully."
12:03: Sasha is fidgeting. Me too. CNN does a closeup on a black man's face in the crowd. He almost has a tear in his eye. You know they were trying their best to get a black face with a nice photogenic tear.
12:02: Wolf Blitzer whispers over the music: "Barack Obama is now the President of the United States."
11:59: In fulfillment of the Constitution, the new President must be sworn in at noon. But first, Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma must saw out some notes written by John Williams. Get on with it guys. I want the oath in the right minute.
11:57: Justice John Paul Stevens administers the oath of office to Joe Biden.
11:55: Aretha Franklin, in a historically fabulous gray hat with a giant, jeweled bow, belts out "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Bells chime.
11:49: Rick Warren is called to give the invocation. I hear a boo from the crowd. Warren's prayer tells us that God is One and that Martin Luther King Jr. "shouting in Heaven" because an African-American has been elected President. Warren asks for forgiveness and guidance. He asks that all join together for a more just nation and a peaceful world. He commits Obama and his family to God's care. And now, as "Jesus taught us to pray": the Lord's Prayer. (So I was wrong at 7:29.)
11:47: Dianne Feinstein: "the renewed call to greatness."
11:43: "Barack H. Obama" is announced to the crowd. A chant breaks out: "O-ba-ma O-ba-ma..."
11:39: Barack Obama, looking a bit as though he's in a trance, with a blissful smile on his face. The weight of the world is about to be laid on his shoulders. Who can imagine how that feels?
11:36: "Hail to the Chief" plays for President George Bush — for the last time.
11:33: George Bush looks happy.
11:26: On CNN, there's a lot of talk about the way Jill Biden told Oprah that Joe Biden was given his choice of Vice President or Secretary of State. So, Mr. Gaffe is married to his soul mate!
11:24: It's Malia and Sasha! Malia has a beautiful, very adult-looking royal blue coat with a black scarf. Sasha is wearing a hot pink coat with a bright orange scarf and an orange layer underneath. I love the way the 2 girls have completely different styles — Malia, ladylike, and Sasha, girlish. I picture a million little girls gravitating toward one style or the other. How many little girls who love pink will be adding bright orange accents now? How many will move on to the sophistication of dark blue and black?
11:19: The official announcer mispronounces "Rosalyn" — in a loud booming voice. George H.W. Bush says "It's cold out here."
11:14: The former Presidents arrive. George H.W. Bush walks haltingly. Jimmy and Rosalyn look pretty sprightly. Bill and Hillary! Hillary's got a royal blue coat — similar to her 1993 inaugural outfit — sans the conspicuous hat.
11:06: They really need some fashion commentators. There are all these fabulous clothes, and the journalists are fumbling, asking the women journalists to say something — as if ovaries pump information about fabrics and designers. Duh... it's yellow. On one channel, someone was saying he'd consulted "the makeup ladies" and they said Michelle's dress was "brocade" so they were going with that. Embarrassing, inane, and sexist. Get an expert.
11:02: The Supreme Court Justices file out onto the stands. Chief Justice John Roberts is squinting in the sunlight. There's a hot mike somewhere, and we hear Justice Scalia comment: "I never saw so many people." Breyer's wearing wraparound earmuffs. Sandra Day O'Connor is there too. Clarence Thomas looks happy. Think he voted for Obama?
10:48: Oh! Dick Cheney is in a wheelchair. I'm sure he'll walk again. It'll look like this:
10:42: Ted Kennedy! He looks good — in a big black fedora and a baby blue scarf. He's one of various people we've seen gradually filling up the VIP section of the stands.
10:08: "A lot of white people. A lot of Asians. This is really a diverse crowd." The wisdom of Wolf Blitzer. But, hey, cool — isn't it? — that "a lot of white people" ends up as a comment on diversity. Still, silly to think that anyone could imagine that Obama's fan base is mainly black people. Hello? There aren't enough black people to make it to the presidency on your popularity with black people.
9:54: A choir is singing. A red carpet is laid down. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama emerge from The Beast. They encounter the Bushes. Michelle has a ribboned box. Has she brought a cake? I hope she brought an assortment!
9:50: Barack and Michelle emerge from the church. The blessings of God are upon them — as they crawl back into The Beast. The next stop is the White House, for coffee with George and Laura. David Gergen intones that — in their manner of handing off the White House — the Bushes have been "classy." The Beast pulls up to the portico.
9:31: CNN news flash: Barack Obama is a human being and the laws of nature have not been repealed. Don't count on 100% magic.
9:15: On Wisconsin Public Radio just now, they were getting some man-on-the-street opinion in Madison. One woman enthused that it was the greatest day in her life, and some guy said today is the "epitome" of his whole life. Then, they told us, not everyone is caught up in all this bubbly good feeling and interviewed a young man who groused that he wasn't convinced we are really going to get change. Yes, this is Madison, Wisconsin, where the people who are pissy about the inauguration are the big lefties. Welcome to my world!
8:48: It's Barack Obama! The camera has been aimed at a green canvas enclosure for so long and then suddenly: It's him! And Michelle, in a glittery sunshine yellow coated dress. They're on their way to church. Episcopal Church. They get into a car that we're told is called "The Beast."
8:38: What would all this feel like if it were the inauguration of John McCain? Of course, some people would be happy, but it would look somber, if not profoundly depressing, on television.
8:32: In the comments, Paul Zrimsek says: "I don't know why no one's been commenting on this, but apparently Obama plans to leave the Office of the President-elect vacant after he's inaugurated! Can democracy survive with a power vacuum at such a high level?"
8:28: In the comments, Palladian is contrasting the media coverage of this inauguration and the last one. Sample comment: "Enjoy the lefties farting red, white and blue flowers while it lasts. As soon as the the correct candidate loses again, the flags will furl and the bile will flow once again in this Dark Empire."
8:21: An experiment with biological/chemical weapon goes gruesomely awry for al Qaeda. Yes, laugh all you want and speculate about whether this will make al Qaeda fans think maybe God's not on their side, but this is a glimpse of what they mean to do to us. George Bush did whatever he did to protect us from those devils, and some people fail to appreciate it when nothing happens. To make this properly part of this inauguration live-blog, do I need to add some message to Obama? I think the message is too obvious to need stating.
8:01: Speaking of change: I've rearranged the entries in this post, in reverse chronological order. Suddenly, after all these years of live-blogging, the scrolling down to get to the new stuff is annoying me. Please enjoy and don't be confused by the new format.
7:57: On CNN, Bow Wow says "It's beautiful" and "We can make the world a better place" and "I'm living in history — something I can tell my kids."
7:41: "Breaking News: Crowds Arrive Early." That just rolled onto the screen with silly urgency. But the silliness factor is high with the "Fox and Friends" people. One of them just said, to incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "You've got big high heels to fill" and "You will be the first administration in HD." See? Those 2 things make his job hard. He's replacing a woman — Dana Perino — and the camera is going to show his every pimple and wrinkle. I hadn't focused — not even with low definition — on the new press secretary. It's funny that with all the earnest diversity of the new administration, the man chosen as the President's face to the media looks like the guy central casting would send over if you asked for a typical white man. Is it okay to use the phrase "typical white man"?
7:29: "Warren Invocation: Will he use Jesus' name?" That's the topic of discussion on Fox News. I had the sound off, so I don't know what they were saying, but I'll give my answer. He will not. He will be generous and inclusive and use his own trademark theme: that God has a purpose for us all and that it is for us to discern God's purpose for us and fulfill it. Here are some religion and the inauguration questions from me: Do you think God has a purpose for Barack Obama? If so, is it because you think Obama is a special gift to America and the world or because you — like Rick Warren — think that God has a purpose for each of us? Do you think Barack Obama tries to understand God's purpose for him and to fulfill it? Do you think George Bush did? Do you want the President to think like that? Do you think it violates the Establishment Clause?
7:14: "My hope for him is my hope for the country. If he fails, the country fails. He knows and he says, 'Not me, but you. Not us, but all of us.' " I heard that a few moments ago on NPR's Morning edition. The quote is from Ella Mae Johnson, a 105-years-old black woman who's attending the inauguration. I noticed the kind inclusiveness of all her words. She said: "I have experienced some of the terrible things that happened to groups, to us and to others. There are people who believe because you were different, you were less than."
7:09: I'm doing the time stamps in Washington time, which is not my usual style, as a tribute to our beautiful young President. I'm switching around amongst the cable news channels. They're all doing continuous coverage of the inauguration — with shots of various glowing buildings in the dawn light — required rephrasing: the dawn's early light — and smiling people — waving a flag is the way to get a closeup on CNN.
7:06 Eastern Time: Everything is fresh and new — except the wars, the economic disaster, and so forth — and let's hope — buzzword: hope — it's going to be good.