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Impressions of President Obama's Inauguration

Yesterday President Obama was sworn in as the 44th president. I thought I would share with you a few of my impressions of the past 24 hours.

They said that Lyndon Johnson's inauguration had more people gathered in the mall, however the circumstances were different. Johnson succeeded Kennedy and we were in the throes of Vietnam. It was a tumultuous period of patriotism and protest.

While fewer people were gathered in Washington, I suspect that the world was watching with anxious anticipation that reach far beyond the District of Columbia. Classrooms in Indonesia, gathering places in Kenya, and bars in China were glued to the television.

President Obama was sworn in slightly past noon Eastern time, which is the official change of power. I was somewhat disappointed that the networks after dedicating dozens of hours to coverage throughout the day didn't repeat the speech in its entirety during prime time. Inauguration Day is a working day for most of America, particularly the group of people who helped that President Obama elected. While many of us were able to take a break, many others missed the speech you would have found it personally valuable. The networks need to remember that they exist in the public service, and entertainment is secondary. Planning a 30 minute replay of the speech, once every four years, wouldn't be a hardship to any of their programming even if it doesn't get the ratings of American Idol.

I felt his speech itself was inspirational, eloquent, and important without being over the top. The expectations for his inaugural because of his reputation as a speaker were probably beyond reach. I thought President Obama did an excellent job of speaking from the heart and not attempting to live up to the expectation of a Kennedyesque speech. I don't know that this will go down in the annals of time as one of the great speeches, but it was a good speech, and important speech, and the message the American people regardless of race, religion, or political inclination needed to hear.

During the campaign I believe the media downplayed the importance of electing an African-American president. But that inauguration demonstrated clearly to us the importance that President Obama's election is to African Americans. I think Dr. King would have been proud.

The speech didn't make promises or pledges, which I admire because promises will be difficult to keep. It focused on accountability and responsibility, two things of which we haven't seen enough in politics, business, or even in our personal lives.

If you saw his swearing in live you know that there is a little bit of stumbling over words between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this didn't make the news broadcasts that I saw later in the evening. It was a news story, but for those who saw it I felt it showed a certain amount of humaneness in the President.

As for Mrs. Obama and her fashion choices, I thought she looked classy. I wish the media would have left it at that. Unfortunately some of the media focused on her choice of dresses and designers as if this was going to impact the next four years in ways that the economy, war, terrorism, education and health care would all take a backseat. I recognize that the First Lady influences fashion, particularly since Jacqueline Kennedy, but come on people, put this story in the fashion magazines and trade journals and quit wasting time in our 22 minutes of national evening news.

A story that appeared this morning made me glad I live in America and not China. During the live broadcast of President Obama's speech, the official Chinese news agency censored the speech. I know that our government doesn't give us every detail, but at least they don't go out of their way to change the content of public information. There is a difference between discretionary release of information and outright censorship and rewriting of history.

I felt too much was made of Dick Cheney arriving in a wheelchair. I'd tell you my reasons, but even me touting my opinions is too much attention to the matter. Love him or hate him, Mr. Cheney is no longer our vice president, regardless of his ambulatory status.

I still heard more people talking today about Mrs. Biden on Oprah. People act like this is big news and Oprah brought it to the world. The fact is the Vice President Biden would have made an excellent Secretary of State or Vice President because of his background. President Obama would've been stupid not to discuss both positions with him, and of all things I've ever heard about President Obama, no one has ever accused him of stupidity. Of course Joe Biden was on the short list for Secretary of State, and like any other job opportunity, of course he discussed it with his wife. I like Oprah, but she isn't the hard-core journalist that people make her out to be sometimes.

I watched some of ABC's coverage, from about 11:30 a.m. By this time Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer were already struggling to think of something new and interesting to say. In 2013 I hope they line up a little more content, or cut back on coverage. I was pretty bored and I was even eating chicken wings at lunchtime.

In the next entry I put a transcript of the speech, which was surprisingly difficult to find today. I ran across it on a local NBC station's website out of Indianapolis. Thanks to them for posting it so quickly.

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