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Obama inauguration: Hits and Misses
January 21, 2009, 9:01 am
Filed under: world news

in-augurasi-barak-obama21We’ve all talked about now-President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration for months. From momentous moments to little flubs, there was a lot to see on Inauguration Day. Here’s our list of hits and misses from today:
Hit: The Speech
The jury (aka, pundit spin) is still out, but the initial reaction is that Obama’s speech was both pragmatic and hopeful. He acknowledged the nation’s grim economic problems, but assured the crowd he would quickly get to work. As the New York Times reports:
Mr. Obama promised to take “bold and swift” action to restore the economy by creating jobs through public works projects, improving education, promoting alternative energy and relying on new technology…. “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
Miss: First-timers
As first-timers on the inaugural stage, no one can blame President Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts for being nervous. Debate initially swirled around who actually messed up the oath, but MSNBC’s play-by-play clears it up.
First, Obama jumped in before the “do solemnly swear” phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”
“That I will execute,” Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: “The off … faithfully the pres … the office of President of the United States.”
While it’s technically a flub, it was also nice to see a little levity during a serious moment. AP explains that Roberts will most certainly get another chance to get it right.
Roberts is the youngest chief justice in more than 200 years. He easily could still be in his role a quarter century from now, long after Obama has left office.
He and Obama are similar in many ways. Both are late baby boomers. Roberts is 53, Obama 47. And both got their law degrees from Harvard and made rapid ascents to power. But their politics diverge sharply.
Hit: Huge crowds
According to the AP, more than 1 million people squeezed into the National Mall to see Barack Obama sworn-in as the first African American president of the United States. Despite the crush and long hours on their feet, the crowds were filled with enthusiasm, hope and a little reality.
Cleveland Wesley, 56, Texas: “Houston didn’t desegregate until 1967. Our formative years were in segregation…This situation is so emotional, it’s basically an unreal experience.”
Jackie Applewhite, 48, Illinois: “It’s something I can share with my students…I can encourage my students to study and tell them that education is the key to success.”
Larry Stroschien, 69, S.D.: “President-elect Obama is just walking into a shipwreck … I think this man has more challenges in front of him than any since FDR.”
Miss: Clinton confirmation
Several members of Obama’s Cabinet and high-level appointees were confirmed in the Senate after Obama’s swearing-in. One person who will be hanging back: Hillary Clinton. AP reports that Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is blocking her confirmation:
Cornyn’s spokesman says the senator has concerns about foreign donations to Bill Clinton’s foundation:
“Senator Cornyn is a strong proponent of complete transparency and has fought for as much throughout his time in office. He is keeping all of his options on the table.”
His objection could delay Clinton’s confirmation by a day or two, but barring any extraordinary circumstances, she is widely expected to win approval from the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Hit: First Fashion
No, not Barack. We’re talking about the Obama women: First lady Michelle Obama wowed the crowds in a sparkly yellow-gold sheath dress with a matching coat by Isabel Toledo. Always the practical shopper, she topped her outfit with olive-green gloves from J.Crew and green shoes. First daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, strutted their fashion feet in colorful pink and blue coats, also from J. Crew.
Stylists like red-carpet and editorial stylist Mary Alice Stephenson swooned as well. From AP:
“What’s so powerful about Michelle Obama is we all see ourselves in her. She’s a modern woman who is fashionable and even flamboyant in her style and she is still taken seriously,” she said. “The dress is elegant, appropriate and has the individual style stamp of Michelle Obama and is timely for a woman in her 40s — and she wears embellishment during the day. Hallelujah!”
Ruben Toledo, husband of designer Isabel, revealed to Women’s Wear Daily that they didn’t even know that Mrs. Obama had picked one of her outfits:
“We’re levitating – we really are,” Ruben Toledo said minutes after watching Michelle Obama on CNN in an ensemble by his wife Isabel. ‘We had no idea. We hoped she would wear something because she has bought Isabel’s clothes before. We never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “‘It’s just another shock, but a great shock.'”
Miss: Troubled Wall Street
But not even the historic inauguration could lift Wall Street out of the doldrums. As AP reports, immediately following Obama’s speech, the major indexes fell more than two percent:
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange paused at times to watch the inauguration ceremony and Obama’s remarks, but the transition of power didn’t erase investors’ concerns about the struggling economy.
At the closing bell, major indexes were down more than four percent and the Dow Jones Industrials tumbled 332 points.
Inauguration Day isn’t even over yet, but the clock has already started counting down Obama’s First 100 Days.
– Lili Ladaga


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