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Tim Myers: Inauguration Day diary

Myers' Musings

Posted: January 24, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: January 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
First days on the job excite me. During my 24 years of "real" work, I only enjoyed this excitement seven times (not including transfers or promotions in the same company).

The excitement stems from the endless possibilities that embed themselves in "first days."

Conversely, I can't get very excited about first days on the job for other people. The only thing it generally means is a free welcome lunch, but their possibilities must remain their own.

Not so the first day on the job for President Barack Obama.

Full disclosure. Many know I supported Barack Obama enthusiastically in his run for president, but many may not know this was the first time I ever made a financial contribution to any candidate for president, making several for the new president.

Further, I even made phone calls to potential voters in New Mexico and Iowa, states handily carried by the new president. (Not from my efforts: The Facebook efficiency of profiling hooked me up with registered Republicans above the age of 40. But a one-in-five hit rate of this demographic should indicate the extent of the Obama victory.)

For these reasons I sprang out of bed promptly at 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day to drive to the gym and spend one hour on the treadmill before reporting to the office.

Generally, I spend my time on the treadmill reading the Economist, but this day saw me unplug my headphones from the iPod and insert them into the jack to listen to the audio on the CNN coverage piped through the flat screens hanging from the ceiling.

I meant to return to the magazine, but found myself drawn to the electronic images of the hundreds of thousands making their way to the National Mall on a cold morning in Washington, D.C.

I should not have felt surprise when I glanced down the rows of cardio equipment to see all my fellow exercise warriors with their earplugs separated from their iPods and their eyes fixed on the televisions.

At the office, to spare the stress on the Internet servers, management set up large-screen TVs for the employees to view the inauguration live.

At approximately 8:40 a.m. PST, a handful of people stood in front of the TVs, but like the millions streaming into the Mall, a deluge of people suddenly swarmed the area and took every available spot, listening in rapt, respectful silence.

The ceremony progressed with the invocation provided by Rick Warren and the swearing-in of Vice President Joe Biden. During the seminal moment, Chief Justice John Roberts stumbled over the oath of office and Barack Obama, with a smile on his face, blew the line as well.

Conspiracy theorists, who will move from Barack's citizenship status to stating that he is not really the president because of the stumble on the oath, should know that Obama became president during the presentation of the John Williams' "Simple Gifts" arrangement, since the Constitution provides that power automatically transfers at noon on Jan. 20, with or without an oath.

After the oath I rolled back to my office to listen to the speech on NPR, knowing that I would watch it later on the DVR.

During the rest of the day, it shocked me to receive feedback from people who I absolutely knew voted for John McCain (no disrespect intended, but I now find it hard to remember this opponent though I can't seem to get Sarah Palin out of my head) stating how wonderful they believed his speech was and how it struck the right tone of inspiration and gravitas.

How deeply does the support go? Polls show the new president enjoyed an historic 68 percent approval rating before even taking office, and an even more astounding 77 percent state they "like" the president.

Only beloved Dodger play-by-play man Vin Scully could eclipse these numbers. I cannot recall in my lifetime an inauguration gathering more interest.

The evening saw more coverage of the ceremony and the balls organized to celebrate the day. A somber tone again prevailed when the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy needed medical care from a seizure suffered during the inaugural luncheon in the capital, but my spirits remained high.

And they will remain high, because I firmly believe Barack Obama constituted the best choice to lead this nation during these difficult times, and it heartens me to see so many who did not vote for him wishing him well.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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