I forgot to post on this earlier in the week, but indeed Marty Lederman taking over the job once held by John Yoo is fantastic news. And, of course, these kinds of actions are even better.
Late for the bus, dashing out the door at 8 this morning, I scrambled to quickly record the inauguration and speech, I absentmindedly recorded CNBC’s coverage. Without getting in to the gruesome specifics, I’ve heard appallingly inane pundits on CNN, Fox News, and I tell you CNBC is a million times worse than all of them combined. I don’t believe my remote control has ever stopped there before, and I hope and pray it never will again. I swear Larry Kudlow actually started talking about what an embarrassment Geitner’s tax problems are while Aretha Franklin was singing.
About two years ago, I wrote optimistically about today:
[Dad] outlasted Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Frist and Tom Delay, and he’s optimistic that Alberto Gonzales’ tenure as Attorney General will self-immolate before the [pancreatic] cancer returns, as it most certainly will. It’s a long wait to January 2009, but one way or another I’m planning to spend the next inauguration day with my father and his youngest granddaughter, watching C-SPAN and heckling the worst president since James Buchanan as he leaves office in a hail of eggs.
Almost none of this came to pass. My father died in October 2007; I wasn’t tuned in to C-SPAN this morning; and notwithstanding the usual bromides about the “peaceful transfer of power,” the volleys of produce were rather more figurative than I’d hoped.
Still, I was able to watch the entire thing with my daughter, who was surprisingly enthusiastic about the live CNN feed on my laptop. It’s true that some of the context escaped her understanding; she seemed to think CNN was conducting an elaborate game of peek-a-boo featuring Barack Obama, and she confused Itzhak Perlman with John McCain for some reason. Moreover, I had to keep reassuring her during Obama’s speech that he wasn’t actually “yelling at us” and that he wasn’t yelling at us because he was “crabby.”
On the other hand, she offered the unsolicited observation that George Bush is a “bonehead,” and she asked if Barack Obama was “taking a little nap” during Rick Warren’s benediction, most of which we missed because we were having a conversation about his goatee. Her remarks about Dick Cheney’s “bicycle” were considerably less mean-spirited than mine. All of which probably means she’s ready to begin guest-blogging for me the next time I leave town.
All things considered, it was a pretty good way to spend a morning. I’m usually not vulnerable to much political sentimentalism, but it was actually quite moving to be able to watch the ceremony with a near-three-year-old who — to my great envy — will never be afflicted with living memories of the Bush years. I suppose when I was roughly her age, I may have watched Nixon’s second inauguration with my father, though in all likelihood not. But I remember the end of the Nixon presidency, if somewhat dimly. If everything goes well, my daughter’s first political memories will vastly surpass mine. And her brother — who should arrive in about five weeks — will have the good fortune to be born during an Obama administration, a fact that I hope one day will provide him with as much satisfaction as it will his dad.
My vote for the best (and most important) passage from the address:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.
The MSNBC cut to Bush at this point was a nice touch.
Somehow, I liked the non-smooth oath. There’s something reassuring to know that, amidst all the not-terribly-appropriate monarchical pomp, something so genuinely important is happening that even the generally cool new President is nervous.
It’s a great day for the country.
…To be clear, as many commenters pointed out, it was Roberts who flubbed the oath.
My Country ‘Tis of Thee? Sweet.
Or, if you prefer without the visuals of the originally intended target:
Of the forty-four Presidents, only Theodore Roosevelt and John Quincy Adams were not sworn in on the Bible. Apparently no Bible was convenient when Roosevelt was sworn in, but for Adams the choice was considered:
John Quincy Adams, according to his own letters, placed his hand on a constitutional law volume rather than a Bible to indicate where his fealty lay.
Apparently, there’s also some question as to whether Lyndon Johnson was sworn in on a Bible, and evidence for the earliest Presidents (Washington excepted) is sketchy.
Given the near certainty that Barack Obama will announce the complete communization of the United States in his inaugural address, it would be irresponsible not to spend all morning at Circuit City buying discounted flat screen tvs and Blu-Ray players.
Shorter Megan McArdle:
OMG, isn’t it weird that white people used to be such meanies to black people?
Not to begrudge someone who’s trying to be, like, thoughtful and shit, but if you’re the sort of person who’s content to describe Rosa Parks as “a seamstress in her fifties,” you really have no business devoting an apparently large amount of time to thinking about the psychology of the white people who got her arrested.