Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan 20th 2009 - The Inauguration As It Happens

As much as I can keep up with it! Please forgive typos. :)

Temperature in the low twenties
Wind chill in the teens
A flurry or two maybe

Millions of hats and twice the number of boots
Scarves and gloves
Fists wrapped around hand-warmers
Toe-warmers jammed into shoes

The wind is whipping up hair and scarves
Noses are red and cold, eyes are tearing
From the chill or from emotion
It's hard to tell

The Mall, usually empty
Grass as far as the eye can see
Not so today
Just people and flags
Jammed into every inch of space

Michelle delicious in a lemon-colored suit
Barack in a red tie
Have a gift for the Bushes
Wonder what it is
Red ribbon around a square white box

A journal and pen for Mrs. Bush
According to Charlie Gibson
So she can write her memoir
And what a memoir it will be!

Spike Lee in his white NY Yankees ear-muffed hat
Ted Kennedy in his blue scarf and and a black hat
Dustin Hoffman with a crown of grey hair
Magic Johnson, black cap over a shaved head
Annie Leibowitz clicking away

Jill Biden in a smashing red coat and knee-high boots
Dick Cheney in a wheel chair, walking stick in hand

Motorcade going down Pennsylvania Avenue
What a thrilling sight!
Car after car, black, foreboding, impenetrable
Down the street I've walked on a hundred times

The crowd is screaming their heads off
Diane Sawyer talking about a taxi that got itself into the motorcade one year
What a thing to happen!
Not this year though, not a chance
Security is tight, tight, tight

The motorcade arrives at the Capitol
The main players walking in
A shot of Arnold Schwazzenegger, gloved but not hatted
Rahm Emmanuel, John Kerry
The Justices walking down

John Roberts, Rick Warren, Colin Powell
Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor
The MC's voice booming over the microphone
All eyes on the red-draped arch through which Obama will walk in

The cabinet and agency designees walking in


The older Bushes all color-coordinated in purple
Joe Biden's mom striding purposefully on the arms of a younger man
Jimmy and Rosalind Carter
Hillary and Bill Clinton

Clinton and the elder Bush in a warm hug (rivals earlier but pals now)
16 years have taken a toll over Bush 41

Rahn Emmanuel just thumbed his nose at someone!
Who, oh who??

Hillary walks out as Former First Lady
Not as Secretary of State designee

Bill Clinton looks grumpy
Perhaps he's mulling over what might have been


The kids warm in pjs and housecoat
Sprawled on pillows on the carpet
Moving to the band music

Charlie Gibson, George Stephanapoulous and Diane Sawyer on the TV
Keeping it low, keeping it alive
I'm content to listen to their banter
Always appreciate George's POV

The Clintons and the Bushes (43) are catching up
The Obama kids come out with their grandma
Aretha Franklin! Oh My God!
Two shocking red hats and scarves in the crowd

Obama's family - a melting pot of its own
Black, white, Asian
A chanting, "Obama, Obama"
No time for a decorous silence waiting for the President and President-Elect

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden walking out
Michelle holding the bible that her husband will take the oath on
Encased in a red box, water-proof, fire-proof
A stray piece of ribbon hanging on Obama's lemon suit
Now finds its purpose - it's supposed to be tied just above her waist


Times Square, NY, overflowing with people

The President and Vice-President
The band strikes up Hail to the Chief!

Joe Biden and Barack Obama up next
Can't get over the sea of people on the Mall
Nancy Pelosi can't stop grinning
C is counting down the last few minutes of Bush's Presidency
Last 20 minutes!

The bare trees look like dust bunnies
The chanting begins again
Shots of the crowd
Their bodies may be freezing
Perhaps they're warm from the inside

Obama's view, never before afforded any other President
Two miles down the Mall, clear to the Lincoln Memorial
Two million people, two million flags
Barack H. Obama, says the MC
He's using the H!

Diane Feinstein does the welcoming address
Peaceful transfer of power is her theme
Rick Warren doing the invocation
A lot of controversy when he was picked
But no booing now
Everyone is silent

Aretha Franklin and My Country 'Tis of Thee
What a treat!
A great big sparkly bow on her head rising from a cap
The woman knows how to make a fashion statement out of necessity!
People are crying - who can blame them!

OMG, it's happening
It's the beginning of a new beginning
Justice Stevens swears in Biden
D is within two feet of the TV and has her hand up too! :)

The country has a new VP! Whoo hooo!
Lots of hugs going around

Yitzak Perlman and Yo Yo Ma and two others I can't recognize
Playing a John Williams composition
Yo Yo Ma left his regular Cello at home
(The 200-year old one he left behind in a NY taxicab once
and the good driver returned to him)
That cello can't stand the cold, apparently
Has a carbon cello for the occassion


The violin and celllo are hard to bear
Emotions are already running high
Surely we did not need this heart-rending music too!

Everyone please stand!
John Roberts administers the oath
The man Obama voted against to confirm for the Supreme Court
The clock has struck noon
Gibson says the White House website has changed already

Obama has his hand on Lincoln's bible
He fumbles briefly, Michelle smiles

Congratulations Mr. President
And with those words,
Barack Hussein Obama is President of the United States!!!


Obama's speech
Will need to go read it later
For now, content to let a Presidential address wash over
Gathering storms, real challenges, lost jobs, shuttered businesses
But they will be met

Will really need to read
Not paying attention at all
The images are gripping
"We are ready to lead once more," he says
What must the Bushes be thinking?
What a way to leave the White House!

To those in the Muslim world
"People will judge you by what you build
Not what you destroy."

Challenges, instruments with which to face the challenges are new
But the values with which to fight them are the old and true

Great line tying George Washington's invocation
to a nation being just born
The expectations were high
Don't think anyone will say he did not meet them
Except may be Ann Coulter?


Elizabeth Alexander delivers the inaugural poem
Obama's colleague at U of Chicago
Praise for the Day, the title
Robert Frost for Kennedy
Maya Angelou for Clinton

Oprah and Steadman looking serious
Rev. Joseph Lowery delivers a prayer
Diane Feinstein does a great job shepherding the inaugural committee
And with the national anthem
Smiles and cheers all around

The change has come!

Let the party begin!

Oh, this is so nostalgic!
The Bushes prepare to leave the city
No longer their home
The helicopter is standing ready
The Bidens are saying goodbye to the Cheneys
Who'll drive to their home in McLean (?)
The Obamas are walking the Bushes to the helicopter
They wave goodbye
The paegentry is amazing - sad and exciting at the same time
The new guard seeing off the old guard

Image source: Washington Post (Getty Images)

The blades are whirring
That Pink Floyd song, from The Wall
The old guard now a speck in the sky.


Here's the text of Obama's Presidential inaugural address. Thanks Altoid!

Here's the part invoking George Washington's speech:

"Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.

OK, Obama and John Roberts made nice just now at the luncheon. During the swearing in, Obama fumbled, asked Roberts to repeat the words, then it seemed like Roberts threw him off by switching the words around.
Washington, D.C. travel essay published last year, when the primaries were in full swing.

Obama speaking at the luncheon referring to Senator Ted Kennedy taking ill. There's an ambulance outside the Capitol and a stretcher at the ready.


Kavi said...

Thanks for the update. I am watching this on TV...

And yes ! "People will judge you by what you build
Not what you destroy." was a powerful line !!

Your description makes it as live as it can get in the blog world. Wonderful..!!

Nino's Mum said...

Just saw it all unfold on tv - and along with the many friends and family in the US who've been obama believers, I thought of you. History made, in your city. And because of that, in a way, i'm connected to it too.
So many words stand out from his speech - perhaps not his best - but a few words reminded me of an earlier post of yours:
'get up, shake the dust off and get back to the work of rebuilding america....'
also couldn't help wonder the order and intent of this one -
'a nation of christians and muslims, jews and hindus and non-believers'
read something in the evening today about how his co-writer on the speech is a 27-year-old.
Congratulations Sujatha, and party on our behalf as well. big hug.

Tharini said...

Commendable Suj! Watched the whole thing live on cnn.com, but learned so many new little little things reading this! Awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely synopsis, I enjoyed the cadence. I watched it from Bangalore wishing I was there. And the goosebumps weren't caused by the Bangalore winter ...

I'd come across your blog a few years ago when I was googling for r2i info and recently rediscovered it via Terri's blog.


Choxbox said...

Lovely Suj.
Watched it too last night.

Praba Ram said...

Nice synopsis.

Had many goosebumpy and not-so-goosebumpy moments watching it! :-)

But, Joseph Lowery's little (not-so)poetic prayer - Brown stick around, Yellow, let it mellow - sure was an odd thing though funny. :-)

Where was the poetry in Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem? May be I didnt quite get it..:-)

Sujatha Bagal said...

Thanks, you guys!

Kavi, you're welcome! So many lines in there I want to take a look at again. Even Feinstein's speech was soaring in places.

Nino's Mum, what a lovely thing to say! As I said on your blog, I'm very happy to be on the same thread as you. :) And something Obama said reminded you of me!!?? For a wannabe writer, there could be no greater compliment! What an amazing writer he is! Thank you! And I liked the way he said 'Hindu' too, like someone who knew what it was all about. Can't tell you the number of times people have confused Hindi for Hindu. Finally, hugs right back!

T, thank you so much!

DS, thanks for visiting and for the lovely comment. I was just trying to put down everything as fast as I could, not bothering with sentences b/c there was no time. And please do come back! :)

Thanks Chox!

Praba, I think she was nervous. We needed someone with a thunderous voice and stage presence. I'm going to go read it now. I caught some lovely ideas in there. And yeah, Lowery's last lines were funny. Wonder what brown sticking means.

Tharini said...

Caught Praba;s comment. Had to write again! :)

I for one, loved Lowery's last lines...I think it brought about the much needed titter of laughter and smiles. It was cute!

I didn't get the poem either, or how it even tied in with his inauguration. She didn't seem nervous, for she certainly read it out very clearly and precisely. I just didn't understand the whole bit about the song. One thing that stood out tho was what she said about love...

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light.

That was my favorite line from the whole thing. The rest can be caught here:


and a review of it here...


Sujatha Bagal said...

T, here's some commentary, from Salon.


Did you like the way the poem was laid out in the NY Times? Makes it difficult to read.

Tharini said...

Thanks Suj. I see that this is a diametrically opposite viewpoint to the one I had read earlier.

I didn't mind the format much because I didn't think too much of the poem I guess. :D

Anonymous said...

wow, Suj, a poem!

Sands said...

first time to your blog. Beautifully written. I can picture the events as they unfolded while I read this. Thank you!

Bong Mom said...

That summed it all up so nicely

Did you finally make it (to the mall) ?

Sujatha Bagal said...

Sands, thank you! I hope you come back often.

Ra, I wouldn't go that far, but thank you for saying that. :)

Sandeepa, thank you. No, didn't make it. D was not feeling too well and did not want to drag her out in the cold. But will have plenty of opportunity over the next four years for some occassion or the other, I'm sure. :)