CFM staffers are on the front lines of politics. Here, they share their reflections on the historic 57th Presidential Inauguration weekend in Washington D.C.
Julie Crockett, Federal Affairs Associate
There was an amazing patriotic atmosphere in DC throughout the weekend. For once Republican or Democrat associations seemed not to matter. My husband Thomas and I stood in line for hours waiting to enter the Capitol grounds for the swearing-in ceremony.
Although the lines were long and temperatures were freezing, spirits were high. I honestly did not hear a rude word all day. People came from all over and were just excited to be experiencing history.
Long lines and frigid temperatures were a weekend theme, and unfortunately they did not disappear for the official presidential inaugural ball. My feet still are numb from walking too many blocks in high heels. But seeing the first couple dance to "Let's Stay Together" performed by Jennifer Hudson made it totally worth it. They seemed so genuinely relaxed and happy!
Ali Santore, Vice President, Federal Affairs
The 2013 inaugural atmosphere was the inverse of the 2009 event. The 2009 inaugural crowd was ebullient, and its elation was palpable all around town. Obama delivered a somber inaugural address, a departure from the oratorical fireworks that became expected from him on the campaign.
Obama faced unprecedented challenges when he took office in 2009, and his mood and tone reflected those challenges. This year, the crowd’s excitement was much more subdued, and it was Obama who delivered passionate partisan rhetoric. There was a real sense that in 2009 Obama was weighed down by the challenges ahead, whereas this inauguration felt more like an Obama victory lap (especially with his recent fiscal cliff victory and the Republicans announcing that they will raise the debt ceiling for three months).
Republicans begrudgingly gave Obama his day (Congressman Greg Walden got tons of coverage on ABC), even handing him a victory with the debt ceiling agreement.
Whereas George W. Bush entered his second term with distinct awareness of his political capital and an intention to use it (see 2005 failed effort to privatize social security), Obama seemed much more measured in his policy goals for the second term — very aware of the perils of overreaching.
Joel Rubin, Vice President, Federal Affairs
The speech was a significant departure from his red state, blue state speech at the 2004 Democratic National Committee convention. The multiple references to "the collective" power of government was a clear and present progressive theme.
Obama certainly was not reaching out to the GOP Congress, and many Republicans will view the speech as another poke in the eye. I think the President is taking a new tack in dealing with Congress, and this was a big shift in tone and attitude.
And one quick point about Joe Biden: I love Joe Biden. The guy was born for politics, and he soaked up every minute of that parade walk. The question is, will it be his last parade? Answer: Yes.
Dave Fiskum, Partner
The most obvious point is that all that went on yesterday illustrates a true American virtue — a peaceful transition of power.
The memory of Martin Luther King hung over many of the activities yesterday in a positive way, including Obama's reference to him and his statute on the mall. Obama also conjured up images of King and others with his references to Selma.
Whether you agree or disagree with Obama, his performance yesterday, along with his wife and children, reflected positively on him, not only on the Office of the President.
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