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White House

 

« President Obama Calls For "Era Of Responsibility" | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: First Full Day On The Job »

Inauguration Notebook

The crowd today was the largest in U.S. history, according to police estimates. Just under two million crowded the mall to watch Barack Obama sworn in, and while there were not any major incidents, it was not always smooth sailing. Here's some color from the day.

  • It was cold, and no matter how many layers, it was a tough few hours. On the long route into the ticketed areas, you could find hand warmers for sale every couple hundred feet, though.

  • As the program began, those within earshot of me cheered almost exclusively for the Democrats, especially Ted Kennedy, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and, of course, the Obamas. Oprah Winfrey and Colin Powell were lauded as well. Joe Lieberman was booed; John McCain got a mixed reaction but a surprising number of cheers.

  • Problems at security checkpoints left the holders of some prime tickets unable to take their seats. One of them: former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, who was escorted through a barricade in the silver section to get to her seat. Other non-VIPs were not so lucky.

  • For the outgoing president, though, it was a definitive Bronx cheer. From his appearance on the jumbo screens to his arrival on the platform, the crowd jeered the outgoing president and eventually broke into an extended "na-na, hey-hey, good bye" chant.

  • At how many inaugurals has the guest of honor had his name chanted the way President Obama's was today. For every lull in the program, like clockwork, the "O-BA-MA!" chorus began on the mall.

  • One quibble from a reader on Obama's inaugural address. He said "forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath." The nation observes that there have been 44 presidents, but Grover Cleveland accounts for two of them. So, Obama was actually the 43rd to take the oath.

  • And about that oath - it was not pretty. Steve Kornacki: "A conspiracy theorist might say that Chief Justice John Roberts, perhaps George W. Bush's most conservative and most lasting contribution to American life, was trying to psyche out Barack Obama by intentionally mangling the syntax of the oath of office as he administered it to the new president."

  • As the crowds dispersed, some who were near the Reflecting Pond walked on water. It was frozen solid, of course. As a few brave souls seemed to fare well, the numbers grew.

  • A new WhiteHouse.gov is up and running. The design bears a hint of the Obama campaign web page, but with more of an official government feel. The new administration's Web site has a blog, and also, we should note, includes more biographies and staff lists, as well as agenda specifics.

Voices In The Crowd:

"I gave Val Kilmer a ride home last night" - Chris Matthews (MSNBC).

"I wish I was Mrs. Crist. I'd be beautiful and rich" - Minnesota first lady Mary Pawlenty, after someone mistook her for the new first lady of Florida (St. Pete Times).