Today has been an emotional, unforgettable day – Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009. Yes, I had wet eyes, just like you. And watching the million people in the Mall, and listening to the joyful hopes, I vividly recalled January 20, 2001 when I was part of the crowd in Washington for President Bush’s first Inauguration. I was accompanying my friend Ann Lolordo, an editor at the Baltimore Sun while she boldly and I (timidly) interviewed people.
It was a horrible day: wet, frigid sleet; gray and miserable skies. There was little joy – except for one troubadour, wearing a stetson, boots, a flag, and a bikini bottom, strumming jaunty C&W tunes. I bought a souvenir – a Bush sweatshirt; not because I admired the art, but because I was wet, cold and miserable. I have the sweater still; although I have worn it inside-out for many years, even more ashamed of the Bush graphic, juxtaposed with the Presidential Seal, than I was the day I bought it.
Citizens greeted with jeers and disdain the Hello of Bush’s Presidency that Day. He was caricatured by large paper mache mannikins; people wore grotesque Bush masks, and brandished cardboard signs emblazoned with cutting, witty slogans. The Supreme Court and attorney General Ashcroft were vilified for their parts in giving the Presidency to Bush rather than Gore.
President Bush’s triumphant 2001 Inauguration Day was a Hello celebration. Today, with the TV image of President Bush turning to wave from the Presidential helicopter, we saw his Goodbye politeness. As he started his journey to Texas, the citizens below impolitely and loudly mocked him. It was a sad moment in an otherwise happy, sunny, proud day. Personally I am pleased to see him leave, but I could not help but feel sorry for the man, a citizen like the rest of us; albeit one who has left us souvenirs we are going to regret for decades and which we cannot hide by turning inside out.