Sara Paretsky’s Blog

The Inauguration
January 20, 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: U S Politics

We watched with friends.  I won’t add commentary, since we were all in the moment together, and it doesn’t need parsing.  I thought Barack gave a good and forceful speech, an honest look at the problems ahead.  The emotion of the moment–many of us in the room were weeping.  And when the Navy sang the Star Spangled Banner, we all got to our feet and joined in, to our surprise–I hadn’t thought I would ever want to sing the National Anthem with real emotion again.  The invocation seemed truly offensive to me; a young friend of mine who drove to DC to take part also found it offensive, but said many in the crowd around her were moved by it.  The person who did move me was Joseph Lowery.  I had forgotten the old Civil Rights invocation–we used to say it, hear it, back in the sixties.  I feel heartened by Obama’s pledge to restore civil liberties and hope he does so; I feel heartened by his commitment to turning around the culture of mindless greed and consumption that’s brought us down this hard economic road.  I feel heartened by his intelligence and awareness of the massive problems he, and we, face.

Let me know what struck you best/least about the Inauguration.

P.S.  My atheist husband was pleased that Obama acknowledged “non-believers” in his call to people of all faiths; surely a presidential first.

P.P.S.  We sang “Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” as Bush got onto his helicopter and a Dutch friend said that to understand America, you really have to know the Wizard of Oz–that it’s THE iconic American movie.  Wonder if that’s true?


7 Comments so far
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When I saw that chopper leave, I fel the nightmare was over.

I liked the speech a lot, I don’t understand those who found it bland or lame. He sounded like he finally got all of it off his chest. (I later read someone saying he could have added something about equality for women). He is not easily moved, but on his way through the Capitol corridors, he was clearly on the brink of tears.

I’ve been watching CNN all day, with the memories of passed decades on my mind. You don’t want to miss out on a historic moment.

Comment by ab

I watched it on tv. I liked his speech,but noticed the absence of the position of women too. I was amused that he stumbled over the beginning of the oath (shows he’s human)and I wonder if it was because he felt the weight of all that hope and expectation. Possibly Aretha Franklin’song was not at its best. I thought back to the wonderful poem that Maya Angelou read at Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

It was a very American ceremony which of course is what it was. In comparison, leaders over here in the UK seem to change office with scarcely a ripple, passing in and out of Number 10 quietly.

I hear this morning that he is asking that the trials of those at Guantanamo be halted. The next few days/weeks will be scrutinised by the world to see how/when he will follow through on his promises. I do so hope that he remains hopeful himself.

Comment by corkhead

I’m afraid I missed it all, and it was one of the first times I’ve ever felt that I’d want to sit down and watch something like this. But I feel more moved than I normally do under these circumstances.

Comment by bookwitch

What an incredible moment in time! It was a very emotional day for me from the very beginnin-Just watching the millions of people walking onto the mall in the freezing weather, brought tears to my eyes so you can imagine what it was like for me during the actual ceremony and his speech.

I thought Barack’s speech was perfect. Barack clearly recognizes that we have tremendous problems that need to be corrected after the hijacking of the country for the past 8 years. To me it was a call to everyone to do their part to make this the country that is can be, must be, (and should have been).

When I saw Barack coming through the halls of Congress on his way to outside I thought he looked determined, aware of the great challenges that we face, and ready to begin the task at hand. I never thought that he was on the brink of tears.

The problem with the oath was cleary the fault of the John Roberts (another Bush decision we’re stuck with). Rather than having it written down he decided to do it from memory and he obviously has a bad memory. I think Barack realized immediately that Roberts wasn’t saying it correctly and wanted to give Roberts an opportunity to correct it but Roberts still got it wrong. Not a great showing for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Since Barack voted against Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court, it makes me wonder???

The choice of Rick Warren for the invocation will also be a puzzlement to me.

As you said, the benediction by Joseph Lowery was inspiring.

With the departure of Bush & Cheney I can now take down my “Bush Countdown” calender.

Speaking of Cheney, even in a wheelchair pushed by a young woman, he still looked very, very scary.

I’ve rambled on long enough…

Comment by genny

Even the young woman pushing Cheney looked scared – bothered and unhappy.

Comment by ab

I was glued to the television all day, wept at the swearing in and felt as though a big old burden was lifted from my soul. Haven’t felt this peaceful for eight long years!

The speech was spot-on, in my opinion. He demonstrated firmness and gentleness all at the same time. There’s no doubt he meant what he said. I agree with Sara about suddenly feeling patriotic once again. Wow!

I really didn’t mind the invocation although I agree that Rick Warren was an odd choice.

Comment by CherylK

Same feelings in France where Obama is considered a major hero. I feel he can be trusted to make the best possible moves in the difficult situation he is facing now.
Also, I hope this is also the end of all these ill feelings between France and the US.

Comment by Pascale

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