January 22nd, 2009
01:27 PM ET

Ten inauguration observations that stood out

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/20/schneider.obama.speech/art.obama.speech.cnn.jpg]

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

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.

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?!)

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.

The plethora of pitiful Presidential potpourri sold on the streets; from questionably edible Obama candy bars to Obama condoms.

If you think the fur industry is suffering, you would have thought differently after hanging out in Washington the last few days. Democrats may think they're more environmentally aware than Republicans, but the huge number of fur coats among women and men was notable. Some of the coats were so extravagant that if the people wearing them wandered into the woods, they might have been at risk of being shot by a hunter.

Inaugural balls are often a bit cheesy. But the youth ball was one of the most hopping parties I've ever seen. Kanye West, Kid Rock, and of course, Barack Obama were among the attendees. But even when they were all gone, the party kept growing. Fire marshals had to stop more people from coming into the Washington Hilton ballroom because it was too crowded with more than 2,200 revelers. When the DJ played Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" to end the night at 1:30am, the 18-35 year olds wanted to keep partying.

The lack of taxis at Washington's hotels. People waited for up to 90 minutes when balls ended to get into cabs. Two hotel executives told me that because many taxi drivers are illegal immigrants, they felt uncomfortable waiting in hotel taxi lines with so many government officials present. (The taxis were plentiful the day after the inauguration.)

The exorbitant prices at Washington hotels. We know there is a lot of demand. But in this economy, gouging tourists is not exactly a goodwill gesture that encourages return visits.

And 10.
The amazingly good spirits among the Republicans attending the inauguration. After months of covering intensely competitive and often venomous campaign rallies on both sides, it was a remarkably different kind of political gathering.
Written on blackberry during cab ride from Washington to Baltimore airport.

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Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Inauguration
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Toni

    Just always wondered what Heaven would look like. In my mind I always thought it would be where whites, blacks, asians, jews, muslims, christians, sinners and not -would all mix together. All Happy together. The inauguration , even for just that one day -to me seemed like closest to how heaven would be where everyone was one and the color of ones skin didn't matter. Thank God for Mr. President Barack Obama – coolest president in this lifetime! He got eveyone together happy, hopeful and thankful!

    January 22, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  2. Ed Henson

    Anderson, excellent article big fan of yours. You echo my feelings of the disrespect shown toward GW. Although I'm a Dem and an Obama supporter. I'm also a firm believer in showing respect toward the president regardless of party and who she or he may be. Yes there will be a she one day. As for VP Joe Biden's joke about the chief justice [poor taste] VP Biden sometimes you need to just think before you speak. One of the reasons I like and support the new president is based on the fact that first and foremost he is a gentleman who treats all people with respect and dignity. Having had the privledge of meeting him I observed this trait first hand. Great leaders set examples for us all in their personal behavior particularly in personal interactions.

    January 22, 2009 at 7:41 pm |
  3. GF, Los Angeles

    I disagree with you Linda – this is America and we have the right to boo our President if we want to. He is here to serve the people – not the other way around. He did a disservice to this country with his half cocked war that has helped plunge our country into so much debt. If I was there I'd sing na na na....too.

    Gary I think you should've mentioned the amount of garbage left behind. I can't believe people don't pick up after themselves. Were they raised in a landfill?

    January 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm |
  4. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    Wonderful article, Gary! We loved watching the Inauguration with friends here in red state Utah! All of us Obama supporters still have our bumper stickers on.

    I agree with Denise! Thank GOD for President Obama!

    The far-right has been out the last few days doing their vile-hateful best to rain on the parade. They are jealous that 2 million people showed up for Obama! And that the vast majority of our Nation and the World is SO excited to have new leadership in Washington!


    January 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  5. Denise

    The big 3 (Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly) lost all credibility when they supported Palin. What a freakin' joke!

    Can you even imagine her at the helm right now? I didn't sleep many nights worrying about that possibility.

    Thank God for you, Mr. President!

    January 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  6. Denise

    The big 3 (Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly) lost all credibility when they supported Palin. What a freakin' joke!

    Can you even imagine her at the helm right now? I didn't sleep many nights worrying about that possibility.

    Thank God for you, Mr. President!

    January 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  7. brent

    The observation about all the fur coats is irrelevent (although it was ridiculous how many there were!) because it doesn't consider how many furs there would have been if there were 2 million republicans all gathered together on a freezing January morning.
    Just a hunch, but I'm thinking that there are a lot more dead animals hanging in republican closets than democratic closets.

    January 22, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  8. MiG

    Why was singing "Na na na na" uncool, as you say?? George W. Bush pretended to be a cowboy all these years, and was actually proud of his ignorance in world affairs. Why should we pretend he deserved the honor and deference that accompanies the Presidential office?

    Stop the nonsense. For a guy who got votes for being a simpleton, it's only fitting that he leaves as a simpleton.

    January 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  9. G. Clare

    Three things to add:
    1) Aretha Franklin's hat. The Queen of Soul can wear anything.
    2) The truly warm greeting President Clinton gave to Bush 41 (and even Bush 43). It appears pretty evident that Bush 41 is a generous man and President Clinton really enjoyed seeing him.
    3) The real sincerity of President Obama thanking Bush 43 for his help in the transition and for serving his country. People who missed it should take a lesson from the new President and appreciate at least some of what Bush 43 has done.

    January 22, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  10. Jo Ann


    What a fabulous blog!! Thanks for taking the time during your cab ride to fill us in on things that we could only get from an expert eyewitness journalist who just happens to be very entertaining as well!

    I got a chuckle out of your “hunter” comment! It was disgusting to hear abut the inordinate number of fur coats at the inauguration. Although it saddens me, I can’t say that I am surprised because rich Democrats often do not practice what they preach, environmentally or anywhere else! That is why I never take their advice on anything. At least the Republicans are honest about their insensitivity.

    You were the best choice to cover the “Youth Ball” and I am glad you enjoyed it! I hope you got a chance to dance. Too bad we didn’t get to see you in a mosh pit; that would have been excellent!

    It was nice to hear that the people attending the festivities were respectful and courteous to one another, but I was not surprised to hear about the exorbitant prices at the Washington hotels or the cheesy, and somewhat distasteful, souvenirs. Capitalism at work!

    That was an interesting comment about the illegal taxi drivers, but I can’t believe they have the nerve to work in a city that is always populated by government officials!

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    January 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  11. JC- Los Angeles

    Additional observations:

    1) Second straight President that can't seem to get it right the first time around; 2) Nice to see politicians, if not the American people, having a Ball; 3) Great to see Joe Biden's sense of humor go over so well with President Obama; 4) Great to see that the new President, unlike the last, is cracking down on corrupt leaders like Timothy Geithner; 5) Nice to see that the Obama's received a new home without any assiatance from Tony Rezko.

    January 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  12. Betty Ann, Nacgdoches,TX

    Hi Gary,
    That na na hey hey thing was really tacky I agree but what is equally tacky are all the fur coats.
    It takes numerous murdered animals to make just one fur coat. How can anyone think they are "green" or humane wearing the stolen coat of an slain innocent animal?
    I believe in equality and kindness toward all living creatures. A "Change" is needed for those environmentally unconscious people who wear fur.
    It is absolutely unnecessary and cruel. Not a elite fashion statement to say the least. Did you meet Cruella?
    Whew! Did you push my buttons or what?
    You did a great job covering the inauguration and the youth ball Gary. It looked like fun!
    Overall, a giant success!

    January 22, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  13. Rebecca

    People near my vantage point (Washington Monument-ish) almost got into scuffles over the booing of Bush.

    January 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Pati Mc

    Hey Gary!

    Wow, you wrote this on your BlackBerry? Yikes, hope your thumbs are still intact? Poor guy.

    You keep this fantastically snarky writing up and you shall either overtake Jack Gray on the 360 Blog, or have Letterman calling you to pen the Top Ten list.

    Alliteration at it's best sir....."plethora of pitiful Presidential potpourri". Stellar example. May I quote you? 🙂

    Thanks for the smiles and behind the scenes info. I was hoping that one of you CNNers would talk about the silence on The Mall. While watching your coverage, this thought kept crossing my mind. Even on TV it came across; surely it was stunning to be there and witness it first hand.

    All The Best Gary. Your coverage of The Youth Ball was outstanding. You looked very nice!

    January 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  15. tim Taylor

    I believe that you can bail out all the companies in the world it won't help our economy. if people dont have money who buys there in stock products.We need to create new jobs and money ,legalize pot ,tax it create countless jobs and besides our kids can get a bag of weed quicker than they can get a beer or cigarette, take the criminal element out manufacture it ,distibute it, tax it billions upon billions of dollars beer is legal but i dont drink so the people buying are already smokers thank u very much Tim Taylor 44 yr old unemployed male

    January 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  16. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for all your great work as always. Number 11? Take a vacation someplace sunny, warm and quiet. A place where there's no cell service..a blackberry free zone! A place where the only ringing you hear, is the ringing in your ears from the silence. Hmm, I think somewhere over the rainbow is booked for the winter, but maybe they have a cancellation!

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    January 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  17. Bill Hood

    Anderson – I am a big fan of you personally and of your show, but the time you (and, to be fair, others) spent on the "flub" of the oath of inaugeration and the fact that the press was not allowed to be present when the Chief Justice repeated the oath in the White House strikes me as silly, lending credence to the perception that 24/7 news organizations have to stretch for something juicy to talk about. Given what we already know about Obama's personal traits, coupled with the fact that he didn't like Joe Biden making a joke at the Chief Justice's expense, couldn't it be possible that the press was kept away to keep the Chief Justice from suffering even more embarrassment?? Just a thought, regards, Bill Hood

    January 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Larry

    Gary, you can afford a Blackberry?

    January 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  19. Linda

    I cannot belive how people acted when President Bush was announced at the inauguration. Everyone of those people should be ashamed of their actions. Evidently they have no respect for the Office of the President and yet they were there to see the change of the most powerful position in the USA. NO ONE has the right to publicly disrespect (BOO) the President of the United States no matter who (man/women, black/ white) is in office. When he stepped out on that platform he was representing George W. Bush, private citizen, he respresented our country in the Office of the President.and he deserved respect from the everyone attending.

    You might not like the man but you have to respect the position!

    January 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  20. Marcy

    I bet it was awesome being around that many people and having them be quiet. In most crowds there’s always a few people making noise, nice to see that they showed respect for the day. As for the kids wanting to continue at 1:30AM, Gary those kids were just getting started, especially the 25-36 year olds, and PLEASE tell us you are kidding about the Obama condoms?! Nothing says pride in our country like presidential condoms. I wonder if those will be collector items one day. . . did you get one?! Ha!

    Mobile, AL

    January 22, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  21. S. Ransom

    Well one important issue that inhibits our economic progress is the question of energy-where and when are going to get renewable and clean energy? Are we looking at every option in the Western free world? How about the Caribbean? Trinidad offers a wealth of resources-including sugar cane.
    The Leeward winds are strong there and also other options- resources like good old black gold to tap into-even liquid nitrogen etc? Ethanol-Corn also grows year round in the tropics!

    January 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  22. Heather,ca

    I agree with you especially on number 4. I dont care who you are or what party you are from. Former Pres Bush kept us safe and that is all that should matter. I thought it was rude and disrespectful. I felt bad for them and I never voted for him. There was a see of humanity from here and there and near and far and everywhere in between. If ever anyone in the world doubted or wondered what real democracy is about, that scene of humanity is it.

    January 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  23. Kellyanne

    One observation that comes to mind that your crooked news channel has failed to notice is the 170 MILLION dollars spent on this inauguration! Boy you spent hoards of time insulting Bush for his pittance of 40 million and we were not even in an economic crisis at the time! Your new slogan "Keeping them Honest" is a joke, you are on an Obama lovefest and a joke as a news channel. Why don't you at least try to be balanaced for the other half of the country that is certainly not rejoicing and in fact would liek to rebuke them for spendign all of that money, maybe Obama should have sent it to the people instead? That would have been a nice boost for the economy.
    Do your job folks.

    January 22, 2009 at 1:33 pm |