- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009


9:59 a.m.

Boys choir kicks off events

And we’ve begun. As people jump up and down and even bump into one another to stay warm, the San Francisco Boys Choir began singing “America the Beautiful” at 9:49 a.m.

I’m sure you’re seeing it on TV, but the mood down here in front of the Capitol is celebratory to the point of giddiness. There is a very real sense that we are watching a very big piece of American - and even world - history. And that regardless of politics, this is a day of glorious cleansing and sanctification for the nation.


Code Pink sits up front

You know things have changed in Washington when Code Pink gets seats up front at the inauguration.

Medea Benjamin, the group’s founder, and Desiree Fairooz, one of the antiwar group’s most visible members, are in Section 10, about 100 feet from the stage.

I asked if someone in Congress had given Medea her tickets. She just smiled and said, “We do have friends.”

Both women are wearing - what else? - all pink and carrying homemade signs made out of pink sheets.

“Obama, lead us out of Iraq,” says Medea’s sign.

Desiree’s says, “Yes we can, can end the wars.”


Loud cheer for motorcade

A loud cheer went up from the millions on the National Mall at 10:41 a.m., as they saw what was presumably the motorcade carrying President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama heading down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol.

A minute later, Oprah Winfrey was escorted through the crowd to seats about 30 feet in front of me. People shouted her name and crowded around to take photos.

Another celebrity sighting. Usher just walked by, with two fairly mean-looking security men behind.

And Jamie Lee Curtis is now ballroom dancing with a male friend in front of us.


Boos for Bush

Loud boos could be heard coming from the Mall when Mr. Bush was announced at 11:36.

Moments later, the throng began chanting “Obama.”

12:19 p.m.

Warren dodges gay marriage

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Southern California’s Saddleback Church, heralded the nation’s peaceful transfer of power and the landmark inauguration of its first black president Tuesday, but dodged the issue of gay marriage in his presidential invocation.

Mr. Warren, who was targeted by gay and lesbian groups for opposing gay marriage, avoided the topic of sexuality Tuesday, while invoking Jesus Christ in his brief remarks.

“We are Americans united not by race, or religion, or blood, but with freedom,” Mr. Warren said.

He ended his invocation reciting “Our Father.”


Standing ovation

Another standing o from some on “we will defeat you” - this time Mr. Bush stood.


Chief justice fumbles oath

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. glaringly fumbled the administration of the oath of office to Barack Obama on Tuesday, placing the word “faithfully” at the end of the second phrase of the oath, rather than at the beginning.

Mr. Obama waited for Chief Justice Roberts to correct himself before proceeding.

Mr. Obama was one of a handful of Democratic senators to vote against Chief Justice Roberts’ confirmation to the high court. He was nominated as chief justice in 2005 by Mr. Bush.

The oath is written directly into the Constitution and marked the beginning of Mr. Obama’s administration.


‘Pick Myself Up’

One of the most quotable lines from President Obama’s inaugural address was likely inspired from a Depression-era musical comedy called “Swing Time.”

In his speech, Mr. Obama said, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

In the 1936 film, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sing a duet called “Pick Myself Up,” with the lines, “Nothing’s impossible I have found/ For when my chin is on the ground/ I pick myself up/ Dust myself off/ And start all over again.”

The lyrics were written by Dorothy Fields and the music by Jerome Kern.


Fourth poet to read at an inauguration

Elizabeth Alexander became the fourth poet to read at a presidential inauguration.

The tradition of poem reading began with the inauguration of President Kennedy in 1961, when he selected one of his favorite writers, Robert Frost, to recite a poem.

In 1993, Maya Angelou read for the inauguration of President Clinton, and poet Miller Williams recited for the second Clinton inaugural in 1997.

Miss Alexander’s brother Mark was a senior adviser to the Obama campaign and transition team.


The Obamas take a little walk

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, got out of their bulletproof limo and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to wild cheers from the crowd.

Flanked by Secret Service agents, the new president and first lady waved to the crowds lining the avenue, as the excited spectators waved back and screamed in rock-star fashion.

The smiling Obamas walked holding hands several blocks in the chilly weather before getting back into their awaiting vehicle.

• Reported by Christina Bellantoni, Jon Ward, Kara Rowland, James Morrison, Stephanie Green, Maria Stainer and Tom LoBianco

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