Let The Obama Era Begin

At roughly 12:05pm Eastern Standard Time, at the guidance of a sometimes stumbling Chief Justice John Roberts, Barack Obama of Illinois took the Oath of Office of President of the United States.

I thought the speech was very solid.  The commentariat seems to like it also, and they noticed several fairly sharp rebukes of the outgoing President Bush.  There was also plenty of flowing rhetoric, recalling past struggles, the sacrifice of past servicemen, and also to remind Americans that he cannot do things alone, that we must all help.  I would say this was the best paragraph:

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. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

But this paragraph was pretty good too:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

As for the other aspects of the speech, liberals needn’t have worried about what Rev. Rick Warren would say during his invocation, nor conservatives worry about what the poet would say.  Both offered wonderful and non-controversial words.  The musical piece composed by John Williams and performed by the likes of Yo Yo Ma and Yitzak Pearlman was moving and beautiful.  Probably the best words of all were by the Rev John Lowery who gave the benediction.  Aretha Franklin was wonderful singing My Country Tis of Thee, though it was sometimes hard to focus beyond the hat she was wearing (the words “big bow” do not do it justice).

And, of course, the crowds were incredible.  Near as the cameras could tell it stretched from the steps of the Capitol all the way past the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.  I will be curious to see the National Parks Service estimate on the size of that crowd.

It is now 2pm and President Bush, aboard Air Force 1 (though not technically bearing that designation since he is no longer President) just went wheels up out of Andrews Air Force Base back to Texas.  A new era in Washington has begun.  Best of luck, Mr. President!


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