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.
High: Chief Justice John Roberts Doesn't Flub the Oath
By some counts, President Obama has enjoyed four inaugurations, to most other presidents' one or two. The reason? Four years ago a mishap on the part of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts warranted doing the whole thing over in another private ceremony after the public swearing-in. This year, Jan. 20 (the designated official Inauguration Day) fell on a Sunday, so although the official ceremony was held then, the public ceremony took place on Monday. While the president hesitated a little during his oath, overall it was smooth sailing this fourth time around.
High: Myrlie Evers-Williams' Invocation
When the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers took to the stage, many were wowed by her youthful appearance. It simply didn't seem possible that this face had lived through some of the darkest days of America so many years ago. But when she spoke, the audience were also wowed by her eloquence, her courage and the spirit with which she imbued the entire ceremony. She set the tone in an extraordinary way.
Low: The Inaugural Poem
Unbeknownst to many younger Americans, a poem is not a standard part of the official inaugural ceremony. Initially introduced by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the inclusion of poetry was revived by President Bill Clinton in 1993 with Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning." While President Obama's selection of Richard Blanco, an openly gay Latino poet, was historic, the most memorable parts of Blanco's poem (among them his reference to the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy) read more like a political speech, which raises the question, do we really need more speeches at the inauguration?
But the larger question Blanco's poem raised is, how important is it to include an increasingly unpopular art form (poetry readership in America is at a 16-year low) in the festivities of such a historic day? The question is certainly being pondered by some of Monday's inaugural audience, but probably by no one as much as one of the president's most vociferous foes, whose facial expression during the poem spoke volumes.
High: Kelly Clarkson Performing for a President She May Not Support
American Idol winner-turned-pop star Kelly Clarkson wowed many with her rousing rendition of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at President Obama's inauguration. But the biggest surprise of her performance is that it happened at all. Clarkson sparked controversy by professing her adoration for Republican candidate and avowed libertarian Ron Paul during the 2012 election.
Though she claimed to have supported President Obama in 2008, her appreciation of Paul seemed to represent a political transformation on her part. Yet on Inauguration Day, she set aside her own politics to help the country celebrate the second term of a man whose policies she may not entirely agree with but who represents all of us, regardless of our party affiliation, politics or policy positions.
High: Michelle Obama's Bangs
How could they not make the list? The most-talked-about participant in this year's inauguration festivities was not the president but his wife's new do. Proving yet again what a smart man he is, the president commented during his official Sunday swearing-in: "First of all, I love Michelle Obama. And to address the most significant event of this weekend, I love her bangs."
High: Michelle Obama's Side-Eye
Much has already been written about the first lady's amusing reaction to being seated near one of her husband's greatest political adversaries, Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Some call it a "side-eye." Some call it an "eye roll." We'll just call it pure magic. Watch it here.
High: The Weather
Four years ago the weather for the first Obama inaugural left a lot to be desired -- namely some sun, or at the very least some heaters and hot cocoa. The temperature was a frigid 28 degrees, leading the president to remark this year, "This one is going to be warmer."
This one was. It was still chilly, but nothing compared to the last inaugural. The sun even came out in time for the parade, making it a beautiful day. Proving that the president, and the crowd, clearly had more luck on their side than four years ago, practically as soon as the inauguration ended, the temperatures dropped to below freezing, and it was announced that a snowstorm was expected later in the week.