4:40 p.m. ET: The reviews of Barack Obama's speech are rolling in from the blogosphere -- we bloggers work quickly -- and the rough consensus from both the left and right seems to be that it was a good and admirable speech, one that garnered very few superlative reactions but didn't get many negative ones either.
Matthew Cooper, now at TalkingPointsMemo, called it, "A stunning moment, a great speech. I don't think any single line will enter the lexicon. ... Obama's 'age of responsibility' seemed flat, forgettable. But the moments that punctuated it like the call for the end of 'childish things' gave it a momentum that made it greater than the sum of its parts."
In his annotation of the speech, Marc Ambinder -- who is either much smarter or just more facile with a thesaurus than The Rundown is -- pointed out that "Obama begins with an exordium, a means of defining why he is giving the speech now. Traditionally, the exhordium is based on the speaker's justifying his paradigm in history -- the paradeigm."
More simply, Nate Silver called the speech "powerful, moving in places, but somber, serious, and not entirely elegant," adding, "There was a nervous air to some of the proceedings, particularly Rick Warren's invocation."
Over at The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru notes "that while people have compared Obama to FDR and Reagan—all took office amid troubles—the other two were relentless upbeat and frequently humorous. Not the incumbent today." And at townhall.com, Carol Platt Liebau says "it seems clear that the speech failed to live up to expectations. That's not because it was a bad speech; in fact, it was a very graceful one. But anticipation for it was sky-high it -- one commentator yesterday was speculating that it would be a "speech for the ages."
Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, formerly of the McCain campaign, called it "a fine speech," though he did chide Obama because he "would not allow the word victory to pass his lips when talking about the wars in which this country is currently engaged."
Another commentator had a more simple, even elegant, view of today's events. Here's how MC Hammer (really) put it: "President Obama about to roll to his new home for the next 8 years....Thank you America !!!"
1:30 p.m. ET: It turns out it was Obama who messed up in the first instance below, though it was Roberts' fault in the second mix-up. Listening to the oaths taken by the first and second President Bushes, in both cases Chief Justice Rehnquist said "I [name] do solemnly swear" before pausing. So Obama should have waited for Roberts to say "swear" before repeating the line back.
12:50 p.m. ET: While others analyze the meaning and historic import of Barack Obama's Inauguration speech, The Rundown and many bloggers out there are wondering: Who messed up during the swearing-in, Obama or John Roberts?
Watch the video again. It looks like it was Roberts. First, the chief justice said, "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear ..." at which point Obama interrupted him to begin reciting the line back. Wasn't Roberts supposed to pause after "Obama"?
Then, Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully," and substituted "to" for "of" the United States. He said: "... that I will execute the office to the president of the United States faithfully." The oath should say "I will faithfully execute ..."
Of course, Obama made one mistake himself in his speech. Obama said: "Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.” But AP points out that, "While there have been 44 presidential administrations, there have been only 43 presidents; Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms in the late 1800s."
8 a.m. ET: Three hundred eighty-three days after he won the Iowa Democratic Caucus, 146 days after he accepted the nomination in Denver and 77 days after he won the election with 67 million votes, Barack Obama will be sworn in four hours from now as the 44th president of the United States.
Did it really begin in Iowa? Or was it his convention speech in 2004? His birth in 1961? The Civil War, a century before? Regardless, the journey from that beginning to this end has generated sustained drama and many millions of words have been spent chronicling it. This morning, as the minutes tick away, the coverage appears divided evenly between practical and political, hassle and hope.
On the practical level, the crowds are surging but not, so far, unruly -- The Rundown's 6 a.m. Metro ride was crowded but uneventful. The weather is cold but mercifully dry. The security is extraordinarily tight, with police and national guard visible everywhere.
As for the political, we're learning more about what Obama did yesterday, what he'll do today and what he'll do tomorrow. From his biography, we've learned how Obama's restlessness and confidence combined to bring him to today's moment. From his transition, we've learned that Obama doesn't sweat. And from selected leaks, we've learned what he's likely to do in the first days and weeks of his presidency -- close Guantanamo Bay, plan a withdrawal from Iraq, change abortion policy and convene a "fiscal responsibility summit."
For all we know about Obama's past and about the buildup to today, there is still so much we don't know. How quickly will the economy rebound, and how big will the deficit get before it does? Can the auto industry be saved? Is Iraq ready for American troops to leave? Is America ready for those troops to go to Afghanistan, rather than come home? Will relations with Iran get better or worse? How about North Korea? Venezuela? Russia?
Obama's journey to the presidency ends in four hours, but that's when an even more important story begins.
January 20, 2009; 7:55 AM ET
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