I'm watching on YouTube and Slogging as I go.
8:05 AM: We saw Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton take the stage as the ABC News hosts gossiped about them. They sure are paid to fill the audio tracks of live video feeds, aren't they? This is some vapid shit.
8:06 AM: There's Jay-Z! I wasn't sure he was going to bother with the second inauguration. Now the hosts are saying that being president ages you prematurely. Not so sure that's true. Presidents live longer than the average American male, in part because they get such excellent health care. But, you know, they killed a few minutes talking about it, so hooray!
8:10 AM: The presidential daughters are arriving. The Obamas kept them away from the parade route. Probably makes sense, considering that ad that wasn't about them but was really about them.
8:15 AM: Dr. Jill Biden arrives as the hosts discuss Joe Biden's 2016 chances. And Michelle Obama arrives as the hosts discuss what she's wearing, "and the bangs everybody's been talking about."
8:20 AM: As Joe Biden arrives, Slog commenter GasparFagel writes: "Clinton looks like Dick Van Dyke these days. I never noticed that..." That is eerily accurate, Gaspar.
8:21 AM: Here's the president. The hosts, weirdly, are not discussing what he's wearing.
8:23 AM: "Barack H. Obama" is announced. I wish they'd gone for the full Hussein. The audience's applause really died down when Boehner and Cantor were announced, but picked back up when Pelosi was called.
8:25 AM: The president looks almost giddy. It occurs to me that we're about five minutes away from the moment that rabid conservatives believe he'll tear the appearance of reasonability away and announce his socialist agenda for the second term. I can't wait!
8:29 AM: Chuck Schumer was a good pick for host. He's got a real 70's TV show host vibe to him. I could see him welcoming America to an episode of That's Incredible.
8:30 AM: Schumer is telling the story of the Capitol Dome, and how Abraham Lincoln kept construction underway during the Civil War. That was a pretty good opening speech. Myrlie Evers-Williams is giving the invocation. Oh, my God: I love her voice. I also love that she's the first non-clergy-member to lead the prayer.
8:38 AM: As Evers-Williams speaks, the camera pans over the crowd. I know that the crowd is a lot smaller than President Obama's first inauguration, but that's still a whole lot of people.
8:40 AM: It's the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir! In an alternate universe, we'd be listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir right now.
8:43 AM: Commenter Collin notes, "Scalia is wearing a funny hat? What the hell?" and Jerry M. Ander adds, "Scalia really, really wants to be Pope."
8:45 AM: Lamar Alexander is speaking. Anyone else remember when he ran for president? His "slogan" was just his first name with an exclamation point after it: Lamar! Good times.
8:48 AM: Sonia Sotomayor is swearing in Joe Biden for the second time in two days. She got a huge round of appluase.
8:49 AM: Now James Taylor is singing "America the Beautiful." I think his voice has aged well. He used to be a little nasal for my tastes, but his voice has burnished a bit. Or maybe he just has a cold like everyone else.
8:52 AM: If Roberts fucks this up, it won't matter because the real swearing-in was yesterday.
8:53 AM: There was a little bit of a stammer there. How many more inaugurations will Roberts get to fuck up in his lifetime?
8:54 AM: Here comes the speech. He's opening with the Declaration of Independence and saying that we need to "bridge" those words "with the reality of our times."
8:57 AM: Oh, this is good. He's tying the Founding Fathers together with the requirements of a modern America: Highways, railroads, and taking care of those less fortunate.
8:58 AM: And he's calling for "collective action." THE REPUBLICANS WERE RIGHT! He just basically came out as Lenin.
9:00 AM: "A decade of war is ending," to great applause. The "economic recovery has begun." He's trying to levy the moment into a more optimistic second term.
9:01 AM: President Obama says we reject the idea of abandoning the generations before or the generations to come. "Any one of us at any time," may suffer great misfortune. The strength of America relying on each other does "not make us a nation of takers," but "free[s] us to make this country great."
9:04 AM: This is a stirring call to fight climate change. He says people might deny climate change, but they can't deny that crops are dying and the weather is changing.
9:05 AM: Shout-out to the troops and American strength.
9:07 AM: He praises our forbears who struggled "at Selma and Stonewall" to give freedom to us. "It is now our generation's task to carry on" that battle for freedom. "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters" are recognized as equal. He just called out Florida by everything but name for making people wait for hours to vote.
9:09 AM: We will not all always agree, President Obama says, but we do have to act in our time. He argues against "absolutism" and name-calling replacing politics, and says that politics is not the art of the perfect.
9:12 AM: President Obama says his oath "is not so different" from the Pledge of Allegiance. He says every citizen has to live up to the oath of being an American. And that's it.
9:13 AM: That was a very good inaugural address. It was political, but it was also lofty. It shot high, and it also performed the inaugural task of reminding us what our purpose as Americans go. That was the best speech I've seen out of Obama in a year or two.
9:14 AM: Now they go and fuck it up by following him with Kelly Clarkson.
9:17 AM: Oh, Kelly Clarkson was fine. You can only do so much with that song, really, and she gave it her all. Now for the poet Richard Blanco.
9:18 AM: Blanco's poem begins with the acknowledgement that "one sun rose over us today," from the east coast to the west: "My face/your face." He segues into busy traffic and people going to work.
9:20 AM: He's evoking Newtown in his poem. His reading style is a little stolid for my tastes—kind of conventionally poetic—but I enjoy the huge, sweeping imagery. The poem is like one huge pan shot in a movie.
9:22 AM: I could have done without the "hello" in different languages, but it looks like the poem is going to make Boehner cry, which means it has at least hit the low bar in sentimentality. (Either that or Boehner really wants a smoke.)
9:24 AM: And he ends the journey through a day with "one moon" and "hope, a new constellation...waiting to for us to name it together." I enjoyed that. It was kind of obvious, but I like that he tried to be grand about it.
9:25 AM: The closing benediction is, you know, prayerful. As an atheist, I resent the implication that without God, we can "see only what the eye can see," but you need prayers for this sort of thing, and I appreciate that he called for a blessing for all Americans, "gay or straight."
9:29 AM: Joe Biden just totally perved on Beyonce. Did you see that look he gave her?
9:31 AM: Beyonce always bring it. She ripped her earpiece out there toward the end, but she didn't seem to lose her step.
9:33 AM: And that's it. I'll have a reaction post up soon—thanks for playing Slog!