2013 Inauguration Highs and Lows

From Michelle Obama's style to a controversial poem to a presidential smooch, here's the best and worst of the historic day.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News

(The Root) — With the final inaugural ball finally wrapped up and all of the out-of-town attendees headed back home today, The Root decided to take a look back at the highs and lows of President Obama’s second inauguration.

High: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday

Hollywood could not have scripted it better. On the day the nation celebrated the life and legacy of its most revered African-American civil rights activist, the ceremonial swearing-in of the country’s first black president for his second term took place. The legacy of King hung over all of the inaugural festivities — including when Stevie Wonder performed his signature “Happy Birthday” at an inaugural ball.

High: Michelle Obama’s Wardrobe

If anyone has any doubts about how much America loved the first lady’s blue jacquard Thom Browne coat and dress, consider this: Browne’s website was so overloaded after he was identified as the designer, people had difficulty getting on it for hours. She also returned to Jason Wu, who designed her gown four years ago, only unlike last time’s demure white, this time she sported fire-engine red. Last inaugural, Michelle Obama looked like a first lady, but this inaugural she looked like the First Lady of Fierce.

Low: Beyoncé’s Wardrobe

She received raves for her performance of the national anthem (though it was later alleged that she lip-synched), but the pop diva’s choice of dress for the occasion seemed more fitting for the Grammys than for the inauguration. The floor-length, embroidered, sheer-sleeved gown that she donned made many of us miss Aretha Franklin’s unforgettable hat.

High: Obama Takes It All In — One Last Time

While exiting the stage after his second public inauguration ceremony, President Obama lingered to catch one last look, saying, “I want to take a look one more time. I’m not going to see this again.” The moment and image became one of the most poignant of the day. 

Low: Chuck Schumer Sparks a Meme

As chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was destined to play a major role in Monday’s inaugural activities. Unfortunately for him, he may not be remembered for that role in the way he’d hoped. Schumer is so notorious for his love of the cameras that, as reported by a number of outlets, there is a common Washington joke: “The most dangerous place in Washington is between New York’s senior senator and a camera.” His camera loving (some might call hogging) was on display in full force during the inaugural festivities, sparking endless ribbing in cyberspace and culminating in this priceless image, sure to start a meme.

High: The First Couple’s Kiss

One thing that even political foes of the president have conceded is that the first family represents America very well. From the attractive and clearly in-love first couple to the adorable first daughters, they are without question a lovely, all-American family. When the president and first lady went in for a spontaneous Inaugural Day smooch, thanks to their awesome kids, hilarity and a lot of “awwwws” ensued. Watch it here.  

High: President Obama’s Speech

Filled with platitudes and light on specifics, President Obama’s inaugural address from four years ago is widely considered one of his least memorable, and certainly not one of his best. His second inaugural address, however, will likely be remembered as just as important to his legacy as his star-making speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

The president made history by being the first commander in chief to champion gays and lesbians in his inaugural speech. He also spoke passionately about a number of issues, from immigration to climate change. If anyone assumed that this president was prepared to accept lame-duck status and a more passive approach in his second term, this speech erased any such speculation.