Obama Inauguration 2009

The bungled oath and President Obama’s powerful Inaugural Address. Video courtesy Whitehouse.Gov. Also, transcript of the Inaugural Address is available on the White House Blog.

I wasn’t there, but I caught the coverage of the Inauguration this morning. A grand historic moment for sure, but there were some not so great moments as well.

As much as I love Washington DC, I’m glad I wasn’t there these past few days. At least 1.5 million people attending the Inauguration and 300,000 watching the parade, but I don’t doubt there were much more visitors in town. The Metro, the Downtown streets, must have been difficult to navigate. Plus, security was extra high. I got to enjoy the the ceremony from the safety of my home and later at a friend of Sharon’s who was having a viewing. Gotta love being able to record TV broadcasts.

It took forever for Barack Obama to get to the Capitol, and by the time he was sworn in, it was past noon. Perhaps this was by design. However, the oath was bungled as Chief Justice John Roberts led Obama through the oath. Somehow, Roberts couldn’t get the words right and it threw the Obama off. However, Obama’s address was very powerful and Presidential. He gave us hope for peace and change, but he also sternly rebuked many of the former administration’s transgressions without directly calling out certain people. The past eight years, we have been asked to trade our ideals and civil liberties over to be safe, and thankfully, Obama addressed that. However, he promises his administration is not one to idly sit by if attacked.

Taking a few steps back, there was the controversial Rick Warren‘s opening prayer. Way too long and way too evangelically. It was the longer-winded version of the mega-church pastor’s prayer that is meant to show that he knows God and that he is doing this so others know how Christian he is. Then, for some weird reason, he decided to say Y’shua, Issa, and even Hay-Soose in addition to saying Jesus. After that, he tacked on the Lord’s Prayer as if he really didn’t know how to end it. We got all upset over someone who gave one of the most half-baked public prayers ever? It was so bad that I forgot that I was upset with then President-Elect Obama’s decision to have him on board for this event in the first place.

Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee more than made up for it. She was amazing.

Now for the post-swearing in entertainment. There’s something special about having an Inaugural Poet because it doesn’t happen that often. John F. Kennedy had Robert Frost and Bill Clinton had Maya Angelou. Those are definitely iconic and high caliber poets. While it’s true most Americans don’t even read poetry, who ever heard of Elizabeth Alexander before today? She’s one of those professor-poets who teaches at Yale. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but her poem was prosaic and was essentially a list, and her delivery was choppy. She definitely lacked the lyrical quality of Maya Angelou, who read “The Tree” with much grace at Clinton’s inauguration.

Strangely enough, what made up for the presence of Rick Warren & his half-baked, mega-churchy prayer and the laundry list poem of Elizabeth Alexander was the closing prayer of the Reverend Joseph Lowrey. It was poetic, had that preacherly cadence, had a good dose of humor, and implored us to make “choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion not exclusion, tolerance not intolerance.”

Senator Diane Feinstein emceed the Inauguration and I was very glad to see her make announcements for an incredibly joyous and historic event. One thing that bothered me was Fox New’s coverage of the event, with the commentator’s speaking over the Senator as if this was their only time to speak during a golf game. I changed the channel to a local ABC affiliate, where the coverage was much better.

It was wonderful to see the new First Couple walk for a few minutes on the route to the White house. That was a definite highlight.

Welcome, President Obama. We’ll all be watching carefully, but we’ll also look with hope to this new era, especially on delivering on change. Make it happen, Mr. President. We’ll also do our part as well.

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