The historic swearing in is over. The day worth of events is still unwinding but the big parts – the actual transition of power – is done.
Senator Dianne Feinstein began the Inauguration ceremonies at approximately 11:45 Eastern time. She spoke for a bit of time. She state that “this morning is a turning point for real, necessary change for our nation.” I have always loved Feinstein for her leadership within the California delegation. I do wish she has spent less time talking today, though.
Senator Feinstein, then, introduced Doctor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The choice of Warren to lead the invocation at the inauguration has been a topic of heated debate. One of the loudest complaints was that it may be “too Christian.” I am not a huge religious fan of Warren’s but I will, until my death, defend his right to his religion, his religious zealousness and his opinion. He is an evanglical Christian pastor and I would expect his invocation to be of that impassioned point of view. There were complaints that Warren, as others such as Billy Graham, would end his invocation “in the name of Jesus Christ” and that this phrase would offend people. I do not expect a Christian to end prayer any other way. I do believe that by ending the invocation with The Lord’s Prayer Warren offended fewer of hose watching and listening.
Senator Roger Bennett of Utah introduced Associate Justice John Paul Stevens who would give the oath of office to Joseph Biden. My presumption is that Jill Biden held a Biden family Bible for use in the swearing in. This particular Bible dwarfed Biden as she is very petite and the Bible was huge. The oath was given with no problems at all and was quickly over.
Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriela Montero played “Air and Simple Gifts,” arranged by John Williams. The arrangement was very moving. It had what sounded like pieces the hymn “Lord of the Dance” in the middle of it. Ma and some “friends” secretly used space at local Binghamton University in late 2008 to practice for some occasion. My thoughts immediately went to that tidbit as I listened to the piece be played.
Next, Senator Feinstein introduced Chief Justice John Roberts to swear in President-elect Barack Hussein Obama. As was widely reported and debated, Obama did use his full name, even though his middle name does bring up some controversy. The oath of office was not without issue. Obama began repeating prior to Roberts finishing his first segment. Roberts, from all I can figure, misread or re-ordered the words and Obama had the oath committed to memory. Once past this issue, the remainder of the oath went without incident.
President Obama’s inaugural speech was approximately twenty minutes long, with breaks for applause. It was not his normal speech. Obama is known for giving uplifting speeches. This speech was concise and not at all uplifting. It painted a somber picture of the conditions in the United States and of the United States’ position in the world.
Obama began by thanking former President Bush for his service to our great country. He, then, had one of the few moments that made me think this was an Obama speech. Even though his comments were painting a dark picture, the imagery used was definitely what the world and the United States has come to expect from Barack Obama speeches. Obama said we are starting this new chapter “amidst gathering clouds” and “raging storms.” We are “a nation at war,” an “economy badly weakened.” Obama pointed the blame for the economy not only on the “irresponsibility of some” but also on the people as a whole “collectively refuse(ing) to make the hard choice.”
I am truly interested to hear what those who so diligently worked to elect Obama, the young in this country, thought of the speech. It is not a normal Obama speech. In my mind, this speech – while celebrating something he wanted immensely – is not the type of speech he wants to give. He impresses me more as the person who wants to be the uplifting type. Consequently, he probably wanted to get this speech over and done. Many of the lines wer elines tha were quite similar to those in his eocnomic speech of approximately ten days ago, given at George Mason Unversity.