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January 26th, 2009
05:15 PM ET

Our common humanity

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

The inauguration was almost a week ago; by now you have heard all about the pomp and the circumstance, the parade and the parties. Since I was there, I’m tempted to give you my take on all of that too, but I won't. Because, now that I’m back from what I’m calling my “Inauguration Vacation” – that is, my week in Washington DC - I want to share with you something less tangible and much more meaningful: The spirit of the whole thing. Never before have I seen so many Americans, from all class backgrounds and ethnic groups, from cities and suburbs and rural areas, from places near and far, in one place and so full of the spirit of democracy.

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January 26th, 2009
08:35 AM ET

Will.i.am: A new day

Performer Will.i.am shares his inauguration experience.

January 23rd, 2009
10:14 PM ET

I'm happy if Demi Moore is happy

Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

Finally, this week has come to an end. I had no idea how exhausting hope and optimism could be. Say what you will about pessimism and disappointment, but they lend themselves much easier to naps.

Some of you have e-mailed me asking, because I hadn’t written anything this week, if I had stopped blogging and/or died. The answer is neither, though the latter is not for a lack of effort by a certain cab driver distracted by his dashboard full of Chicken McNuggets. I just needed a little time to detoxify from all the warmth and fuzziness. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say it involved dry heaving into Aretha Franklin’s giant hat.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Inauguration • Jack Gray • Raw Politics
January 23rd, 2009
09:57 AM ET

Batman for governor

Actor Val Kilmer attends the Post Pre-Inaugural Ball hosted by The Huffington Post and MySpace at The Newseum on January 19, 2009 in Washington, DC.
Actor Val Kilmer attends the Post Pre-Inaugural Ball hosted by The Huffington Post and MySpace at The Newseum on January 19, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Leslie Sanchez
CNN Contributor and Republican Strategist

Washington was a constellation of Hollywood stars and starlets this week, but one seemed to be moving in a particularly well-defined orbit - and he was clearly one of the most interesting people making the rounds.

Critically-acclaimed actor Val Kilmer (Tombstone, Batman Forever, The Doors and Heat) showed himself to be wonderfully personable, thoughtful about public policy issues and extremely inquisitive about the process.

Maybe too inquisitive.

What couldn't be missed was Kilmer's high-powered networking with several Democratic governors, including Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association. The two met at Monday's unity dinner honoring Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

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January 23rd, 2009
08:45 AM ET

Obama's Speech: Better in the reading

President Obama, pictured, giving his inaugural speech.
President Obama, pictured, giving his inaugural speech.

Erin Evans
The Root

Some say President Obama’s inaugural speech fell short of expectations. But history may reveal that it shifted expectations for us all.

Some say President Obama’s inaugural speech fell short of expectations. But even Lincoln’s best speeches were better in the reading than in the reciting. History may reveal it shifted expectations for us all.
Some say President Obama’s inaugural speech fell short of expectations. But history may reveal that it shifted expectations for us all.

“Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.”
—Elizabeth Alexander, “Praise Song for the Day”

African Americans comprised nearly half of the audience at Lincoln’s second inaugural address. As Lincoln spoke to the crowd, he made the astonishing suggestion that perhaps God had willed that the Civil War would continue, “until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” It was the day that Lincoln became the black man’s president.

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Filed under: Inauguration • Presidential Debate
January 22nd, 2009
01:27 PM ET

Ten inauguration observations that stood out

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

1.
The lack of panic, or even concern when people started getting squeezed tightly by throngs of other people on narrow streets as they tried to get closer to the Capitol to view the Inauguration.

2.
The immense number of children, the elderly, and the disabled dealing with the mass crowds and the cold to be part of history. (How many more people would attend inaugurations if they were held in May?!)

3.
The respectful, utter quiet during portions of the ceremony. Hearing nothing from 1.8 million or so people is awe inspiring.

4. Hearing some inaugural attendees start singing "Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye" when they saw George Bush on the Jumbotron. Pretty uncool, whatever your political feelings.

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Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Inauguration
January 22nd, 2009
11:13 AM ET

'Everything' is possible

Photographer Peter Turnley covered Obama's inauguration for CNN. He says it was like nothing he's ever witnessed.


Filed under: Inauguration
January 21st, 2009
06:48 PM ET

What does the inauguration of Barack Obama mean to you? "Everything."

A group of African-Americans ride a bus from Brooklyn, New York to Washington DC on Sunday, Jan.18,to attend the inauguration.
A group of African-Americans ride a bus from Brooklyn, New York to Washington DC on Sunday, Jan.18,to attend the inauguration.
A New Yorker on his way to the inauguration.
A New Yorker on his way to the inauguration.
On the eve of the inauguration of President Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, and on Martin Luther Kings' Birthday, thousands of citizens arrive in Washington DC and visit national monuments and historic sites.
On the eve of the inauguration of President Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, and on Martin Luther Kings' Birthday, thousands of citizens arrive in Washington DC and visit national monuments and historic sites.

Peter Turnley
Photojournalist

On Sunday morning, I boarded a bus in Brooklyn with a group of approximately 40 citizens from New York, all African-American, each of whom, would not have missed for almost anything, the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I have been a photojournalist for the past 25 years, and have had the incredible opportunity to witness many of the worlds’ defining moments of modern history; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989; the end of apartheid in South Africa and Nelson Mandela walking out of prison in 1991; and most of the worlds’ conflicts of the past three decades. When our bus pulled into Maryland, on the eve of the inauguration, I knew after hearing the words of my fellow passengers, in some sense fellow pilgrims, that I was in the midst of a moment of history like maybe no other in terms of its historic magnitude, that I had ever witnessed and certainly not in America.

It is the words of these passengers, and those of many others that I have met in the past two days, that are representative of some degree of what this moment means. I would prefer to let them speak for themselves.

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January 21st, 2009
03:22 PM ET

How to get out of Iraq carefully

A U.S. soldier plays with a boy Monday while on patrol in Babil province, Iraq.
A U.S. soldier plays with a boy Monday while on patrol in Babil province, Iraq.

Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

What should President Obama do to build on what is widely acknowledged to be Iraq's fragile peace?

As Obama has frequently observed, the United States needs to be "as careful getting out of Iraq as it was careless getting in" because, unlike the case of Vietnam, the United States has substantial strategic interests in Iraq.

The country sits on the world's second largest oil reserves, is close to Israel, plays a lynchpin role in regional stability in a part of the world that sets global energy prices, and its reversion into a failed state would be a prelude to al Qaeda regrouping there.

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Filed under: Inauguration • Iraq • Peter Bergen • President Barack Obama
January 21st, 2009
03:02 PM ET

Meet President Obama: He begins with a serious, solid Inaugural Address

Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal

Teddy Kennedy is gallant. He attended the swearing-in of the new president on Tuesday in the midst of serious illness, white-haired and frail—in his jaunty fedora he looked like his father, old Joe Kennedy, in 1939, when he first burst on the scene as the new American ambassador to the Court of St. James. The senator smiled as he walked toward his seat, sweetly blowing a kiss to a friend in the stands. Later, at the congressional lunch, he collapsed.

Four years ago it was Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who rose from his sickbed to swear in George W. Bush for a second term, and who died 7½ months later of the cancer from which he'd long suffered. Such personal gallantry has long graced our national life, and in its way makes that life possible. And so it should always be noted, with gratitude, and a tip of the hat. As I write I can hear the ambulance that is taking Sen. Kennedy to the hospital. He is a courteous person, much like the Bushes in being an old-school writer of notes and maker of calls, and one suspects very soon we'll be hearing that he called the new president to apologize for stepping on his story.

All this did have a somewhat subduing effect on the day. But then the Inaugural Address itself was somewhat subdued.

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