Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

  • Music:

Yes, we can have nice things

So I spent the day watching the inaugural coverage like it was my job, because I was terrified that someone was going to blow something up, and--you know me and my superstitious tendencies towards magical thinking: if I watch the whole thing expecting something terrible to happen, it won't. (Clearly, I have this power.) So I turned on NBC shortly before nine, right when the Obamas arrived for Coffee with the Outgoing President, and then I stuck with it all day, although I wandered away during the luncheon. Which was, of course, when the Breaking News Event happened.

Roberts stumbles slightly over presidential oath. Actually, at the time I thought it was Obama who had messed up, but I liked it. I liked that there were these huge expectations and he seemed so happy to be there that it got a little goofy and it was like, you know: hey guys, he's human. Don't forget that.

The other part I liked was how the swearing-in was running late for some reason (I think because the Former Presidents stopped to chitchat on the way in?)--my understanding was that it was kind of like midnight on New Year's Eve, where it was very important for the new president to be taking his oath as High Noon struck. So here's Aretha Franklin and her giant bedazzled bowtie hat (not that I'm going to tell Aretha Franklin to hurry up, but...), here's a prayer (seriously, we need to pick up the pace here), here's New Vice President Biden (even he said his lines pretty quickly, like, YES, I DO TAKE THIS COUNTRY TO BE MY LAWFULLY-SWORN-IN VICE PRESIDENCY! MOVE IT ALONG!), here's another prayer (I GIVE YOU TWENTY SECONDS!), here's someone to introduce someone to introduce a nice little musical interlude with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman (arranged by John Williams, even. WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!!) and... here it comes. Noon. There it goes. Am I just crazy? Was I making up the significance of noon? And then the music finishes up and JaBrian Williams intones, voice steely with irritation, "And Barack Obama officially became president FOUR MINUTES AGO." Sister Girl and I fell over laughing.

(Oh: the other-other part I liked was when NBC was trying to kill time waiting on the Outgoing President Coffee Omg to be done, so they cut to the parade route where people were already waiting, and U2's "Beautiful Day" was playing on the street in the background.)

Barack Obama's Inaugural Address: Humility, Gratitude, Sacrifice. I liked that it was a fairly pragmatic speech--they kept talking about how high the expectations were for the "poetry" of it, but he got in there and said, look, we have a ton of problems going on right now, and one person can't fix it, it's going to have to be all of us working together and it's not going to happen in a week, we're going to have to be patient: "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." And also? We're going to have to do things differently. (Full text.) I forget exactly which part made me blurt out "OH SNAP" because I'm just as annoying in real life as I am online, but it was either the part about divisive politics or "greed and irresponsibility"--wait, no, here it is: "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics." Yeah. That part. My point is, it wasn't a flowery "Man, this is gonna sound so good in the history books!" speech; it was him telling us not only what's beginning, but also what's over--what he's going to do, but what we're going to have to do, too.

Sen. Kennedy collapses at inaugural lunch. This freaked me out at first, because I was in the kitchen and all I heard from the TV was someone saying, "...there was a scream... some kind of medical emergency," and all I could think was, Oh God, the food was poisoned. As of 3:30 this afternoon, NBC was saying that Kennedy was "awake and alert" at a hospital and seemed to be recovering from a seizure he had had (off camera, thankfully, but apparently it traumatized everyone present who saw it) during the luncheon. It was being reported that Senator Robert Byrd had also taken ill, but his office said later that he had just left early.

And then I struggled mightily not to fall asleep during the parade, which was basically Andrea Mitchell on a truck (Flatbed One, as they called it) in front of the motorcade with an NBC camera locked on the Obamas' car for two hours. Oh, and also the four Secret Service agents who walked alongside it. That's how slow we were going. Which was great and all, but that was a long time for me to have to concentrate my magical powers of delusional thinking. (ETA: I forgot to tell you about his "first interview.") The actual parade was shown once the Obamas were in the bulletproof reviewing stand or whatever. At which point I went upstairs, because I figured that was safe enough.

That was what made me the happiest about the whole thing, that we were able to safely have this moment in time. Some two or three million people were there, history was made, everything went peacefully, and no one got hurt. We're at a point as a nation, knock on wood, where we're able to have this.


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