Obama's Inauguration: Too Significant to be Spoiled

by Phil Kehres

Tuesday was truly a historic day. I won’t be trite and opine about what I think it means for the millions of Americans who have suffered discrimination over the years — only they can understand how significant January 20th, 2009 was. But the truth is, it was significant, perhaps one of the most significant days in American history. It’s a shame it was almost ruined.

The handling of the event was completely botched. Thousands of ticketholders, many of whom had traveled from across the nation, were shut out and denied their chance to witness history firsthand because the planners lacked the foresight to do the simple things that would have made things flow more smoothly. More tickets were distributed than the number of people the staging area could hold. Simple signs directing people to the security checkpoints, or even police officers with megaphones, could have prevented much of the befuddlement. Panic attacks and unnecessary congestion could have been avoided had the planners not wet the bed in anticipation of a security meltdown. Consider it one last middle finger from one of the most paranoid administrations in history.

The last vestiges of the dysfunctional America of the past eight years still live on, but you really get the sense that, as corny as it sounds, a new America is on the horizon. That feeling was tangible on Tuesday, and it came in the form of millions of proud Americans who trekked to D.C. for this singular event. Even those who never got a chance to get in the gates will always be able to say that they were there.

That is why, ultimately, you cannot let the many missteps detract from the gravity of the day’s events. For every disheartened ticket holder turned away, there were ten climbing statues and trees on the National Mall, waving flags and chanting “O-Ba-Ma!” For every person waiting in a mile-long line on a forsaken highway, there were scores around him who would share their excitement and become brothers in arms, if only for a day.

And for one man who stood at the center of the universe on that day, there were two million gloved hands beating in a muffled, thunderous applause as he became the 44th President of the United States of America.

(The photo of the Capitol during the inauguration of President Barack Obama is from the White House; the photo is in the public domain. To see a replay of the inauguration and President Obama's speech, please check the video below.)

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Rick Rockwell said...

As someone who doesn't usually support the Republican viewpoint, I must however quibble a bit with one conclusion here. Weren't the real culprits in the organization of the inaugural unconnected to the Bush administration? Wouldn't the blame for these problems rest with the officials who run Metro? Or with D.C.'s Mayor Adrian Fenty? Or with Sen. Diane Feinstein who chaired the Congressional committee in charge of inauguration plans and who was no shrinking violet about that post on inauguration day?

One might also say that for an event that pushed two million people into the city's center (an unprecedented number) some of these problems were likely inevitable.

Turk said...

Rick, these are all excellent points. I think DC and the inaugural committee can share the blame on this one.

In fact, I didn't intend to blame the Bush administration for this at all. I am guilty of not being clear enough, but when I said it was like "one last middle finger" from Bush, I meant it more symbolically. However, I'll stand my ground that Bush should shoulder a great deal of the blame for making America as a whole much more paranoid than we were eight years ago.

Also, I feel like I should give credit where credit is due -- Metro actually ran much more smoothly than I expected, and it's a credit to all involved that there were no serious injuries/arrests. However, I feel that there were many simple things that could have been done -- whether by the city or the committee -- that could have facilitated things at little extra cost.

Rick Rockwell said...

I feel compelled to update this because Democrats in Congress are now discussing hearings or investigations into what went wrong at the inaugural. We'll see if this is a pass the buck move or genuine oversight.

Mike Licht said...

The Nation's Capital will celebrate the effective, efficient security measures during the recent Inauguration festivities at the National Bollard Festival.

See http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/celebrate-inaugural-security/

Rick Rockwell said...


Thanks for dropping around this way. We appreciate your visits (and wonderful graphics) and of course your sense of humor.
I'll do everyone the favor of liinking to your funny piece, for greater ease of use.
By the way, I suppose Phil was ahead of the curve as The Washington Post's continuing coverage of the inauguration snafus reveals.

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