Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Washington Watch: Week One

Official White House Photo. Lawrence Jackson

Week One:  President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

“What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013

Inauguration 2013 -- First of all.... the crowds

Most estimates put the crowd at about 800,000 or slightly less than half of the 2009 inauguration. From my recollection, the 2009 crowd stretched nearly to the Lincoln Memorial. The 2013 crowd didn't seem to go beyond the Washington Monument.  (btw...If you ever get to DC make sure you recreate King’s March on Washington walk from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.  I always make my kids do this...to their chagrin.  This time, as we approached the Lincoln Memorial I felt inclined to sing “We Shall Overcome.” My 14-year-old sang Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”)

To get a better idea of the crowd differences,The Washington Post published a neat tool to compare the inaugural crowds from 2009 and 2013.

Inauguration 2013 -- Let’s get Beyonce out of the way

I summarized my thoughts on her lip-synching in my prior inauguration blog...I’ll just add two things:  First...I agree with those who say that long, black sequined dress didn't work for the occasion. It was more appropriate for a Ball. However, I have had many a fashion faux-pas so I’ll end the criticism here.

Second...I’m guessing shrewd businesswoman Beyonce recorded the song to release it as a single...the way Whitney Houston released hers. 

From Wikipedia: Houston's recording of "The Star Spangled Banner" reached the number twenty on the Hot 100 Singles chart in March 1991, making her the only act to turn the national anthem into a pop hit. The single was re-released in September 2001 and peaked at number six on the chart, becoming the first and the only version of the national anthem to achieve that feat in music history”  

With all the brouhaha regarding the lip-synching, we probably won’t see the Beyonce National Anthem single.

This was the second inauguration controversy for Beyonce. In 2009, Etta James was upset that Beyonce was chosen to sing Etta’s signature song “At Last” at the official Inaugural Ball (as the first couple danced.)  Wonder how Al Green felt about Jennifer Hudson singing “Let’s Stay Together” this year?

Inauguration 2013 -- The Reaction

The response was predictable (and probably written) before the President uttered a word. Democrats (quick to remind that they are the victors) heard what they wanted to hear and Republicans dismissed the speech as divisive (from the group that brought us the Tea Party). Decide for yourself:  Read the whole speech Here or watch above.

Inauguration 2013 --  The Work Begins

So many issues to address... so much work to be done.  From Cabinet appointments (still looking for more women), to immigration reform, health care implementation, gun / violence control (we must not forget Sandy Hook), climate change, debt, entitlements, education, the list goes on and on. And then there is foreign policy. We can't afford to continue with gridlocked government. So will it be "FORWARD" or "STANDING STILL" or worse, "BACKWARD?"

“All Talk”

Remember all that talk before the inauguration about shutting down Government and an absolute refusal to lift the debt ceiling? Seems the Republicans decided that a long protracted battle with the Administration, AND the American public, was a no-win situation right now. They kicked the ball down the road until May 19.

“Because We Need You…”

Saying “Now is the Time” the President outlined his plan for immigration reform, on the heels of a bi-partisan proposal from Senators.  Republicans, after seeing the President take 70% of the emerging Latino vote, have decided that they need to get on the right side of immigration -- a long way from Romney’s “self-deportation” suggestion.

“That’s What Friends Are For…”

60 Minutes aired a love fest between Obama and his out-going Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton. Didn't you get the idea that she has been running ‘the world’ the past few years as he fought for re-election?  She seems to be starting her run for 2016, a super-PAC has been started for her. So far 2016 is looking like Clinton and Christie and Jindal (who suggested fellow Republicans “stop being the stupid party”).  But...wait a minute...is that Joe Biden wagging his tail and hinting at a 2016 run?

Good News?

So much good news. So little coverage:

ABC News Reports:  Booming Stocks, Stronger Economy  (1-28-13)

Bloomberg Reports:  Home Prices Climb by Most in Six Years as U.S. Market Firms (1-29-13)

Yet Consumer confidence fell, probably as a result of the payroll-tax hike.

Norris of the New York Times asks: “Who Should we Believe: The Polls vs the Markets” (1-29-13)


A Nostalgic look at Week One 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog January 26, 2009)
  • The President’s $825 billion dollar economic recovery bill, called ‘The America Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,’ passed without a single Republican vote.
  • Organizing for America (OFA), the continuation of the grassroots Obama movement, called on followers to hold Economic Recovery House Meetings to drum up support for the bill.
  • The Republican National Committee, seeking to rebuild the party after November’s defeat, elected former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele as their Chairman. Steele became the first African-American to hold the post.
  • On January 29, President Barack Obama signed his first piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, that made it easier for anyone to get equal pay for equal work regardless of age, race, or gender. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named after a woman who was paid less than her male co-workers at an Alabama tire factory. After the signing, first lady Michelle Obama held a reception in the State Dining Room honoring Lilly Ledbetter. Mrs.Obama said she supported the measure for fair pay, especially “at a time when so many families are facing economic insecurity and instability.” Speaking to guests at the luncheon, she encouraged them, “feel free, walk around, touch some stuff, just don't break anything.”


Inauguration 2013 -- A final look:

A story making the rounds...a poignant last look at the crowds before leaving the Inauguration Platform...with the President reportedly saying: "I want to take a look one more time, I won’t see this again".  

President Barack Obama pauses to look back at the scene before leaving the platform following the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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