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Peter Baker writes in the New York Times: "Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday and promised to 'begin again the work of remaking America' on a day of celebration that climaxed a once-inconceivable journey for the man and his country. . . .

"Beyond the politics of the occasion, the sight of a black man climbing the highest peak electrified people across racial, generational and partisan lines. . . .

"But confronted by the worst economic situation in decades, two overseas wars and the continuing threat of Islamic terrorism, Mr. Obama sobered the celebration with a grim assessment of the state of a nation rocked by home foreclosures, shuttered businesses, lost jobs, costly health care, failing schools, energy dependence and the threat of climate change."

David Maraniss writes in The Washington Post: "In taking the oath of office as the first African American president in the nation's nearly 233 years, one man reached a singular achievement. But at four minutes after noon yesterday, Barack Hussein Obama was inevitably transformed -- no matter what happens during his administration -- from an individual, a politician, to an icon and a symbol. Here was history at its most sweeping and yet intimate. . . .

"With the inauguration witnessed by perhaps the largest audience ever to assemble in Washington, and with the fit young leader and his wife striding confidently down part of the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route, the day, of course, was about him.

"But more than that, it was about everyone out there in the crowds that stretched from the west side of the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial: every person with an individual story, a set of meanings and reference points for a moment that many thought would never happen in their lifetimes."

Joe Klein writes for Time: "The millions who trekked to Washington for the Inauguration, who cried their eyes out and cheered their lungs raw, are testimony to the man's sheer inspirational power. Reagan's movement was called a revolution, but this may be more than that -- the beginning of a whole new era of Obama-inspired and Obama-led citizen involvement. . . .

"By the tone and style of his move to power, Obama has shown the world -- and the people living in Sarah Palin's small-town America and even many liberals who had lost hope over time -- a new, gloriously unexpected and vibrant face of our country. The sheer fun of the Inauguration, the world-record number of interracial hugs and kisses, augurs a new heterodox cultural energy, a nation -- as the man said -- of mutts."

By Dan Froomkin  |  January 21, 2009; 2:40 PM ET
 
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