Watching the inauguration was an interesting experience. It was quite awe inspiring to see the vast ocean of people that had converged on the Capitol to witness the affair. The event itself was not very long and the majority of those who came to witness it ended up watching it on jumbotron screens anyway.
Nothing wholly remarkable happened except Obama's flubbing of the Oath of Office. It seemed that Justice Roberts was giving him a bit more than a mouthful to say, but it seems to me that for such an occasion, you'd have the oath memorized anyway.
It will be very interesting to see what Obama does during the honeymoon. Rumors have been swirling for some time that he'll be closing the prisoner camp at Guantanamo Bay within a short period of time of taking the reigns as Commander in Chief, but we'll see. Some of the things that I'd really like to see revisited are the doctrines of domestic wiretapping and surveillance. I think there needs to be stronger controls in place and more oversight into how that program functions and carries out intelligence findings. Americans deserve a bit more transparency in this regard, and it seems to be contrary to the laws of the land in how they have been previously executed.
That's not to say that Bush didn't do what he thought was right. We live in troubling times, and in the wake of 9/11, it seemed like a good idea. But with changing of the guard, this moment best presents itself to take a step back and ask if these policies are effective and can we exercise them in a way that both safeguards America's sovereignty and respects Americans' rights to privacy.
Then, there's the economy. One of the tenants of economic theory is the idea of the 'self-fulfilling prophecy'. The idea is that if the market predicts bad things will happen, then they invariably do--not because of any substantive force outside the market, but because the market dithers in its own self-doubt. The thin line to skate though, is that if respected sources of strength try to quell the self-doubt and pessimism with over-optimism and the economy does not improve, then the market loses further confidence, the champion loses credibility, and the market spirals anyway. Obama will have a very difficult time pulling the nation out of this slump and I am sure that the outcome of this will define his first term either for good, or ill.
The Republican Party has a bit of time to pull itself together. After a bitter defeat, any self-respecting Republican ought to hope that Sarah Palin never shows her face again. I'm not sure that my laughing gut can take another round of Saturday Night Live parody, with here ill thought out responses to interview questions. Browsing through the list of potential candidates, I'm not really sure there are any rock star caliber contenders (at least not of Obama quality), but as the next four years roll by, who knows what they may come up with next.
Good luck, Obama, you're going to need it--more than we all probably know.