(All times EST)
11:38 am: They're playing "Hail to the Chief" for W. for the last time. Thank God. Cheney is being wheeled out in a wheelchair. He looks a great deal like the Bond villian, Blofeld, from For Your Eyes Only. The CNN correspondents remind us that, during the White House's construction, a slave pen existed just yards away from where Obama is about to be introduced. I wish Claude McKay was alive to see this day.
11:43 am: The Man appears. Collective ecstasy from the gathered crowd. Then a stunning silence. Or maybe it's just the direction/productive manipulation of the mics.
11:46 am: Feinstein introduces The Man. She subtly references Malcolm X. Every time the cameras flash it, I can't help thinking it would be cool if they painted the Washington Monument black.
11:48: Warren presents an "Opening Prayer". Refers to "hero Israel". I'm sure the folks listening in Gaza appreciate this. He almost starts crying. Explain to me again the separation of church and state? Ironically, this dude rails against presumption through the course of his prayer.
11:53: Ladies and Gentlemen, The First Lady of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her head is wrapped up like a Christmas present. She must be sick. Not sounding great. Singing from her throat. Hiding out in falsetto and struggling with the high notes. Whenever I hear Franklin sing, I can't help wishing Otis Redding was still alive. Don't get me wrong, big R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Aretha.
11:57: The undercard. Biden gets sworn in.
12:00: Ran to the bathroom. Came back. Exceptionally diverse quartet. Nice touch. Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriel Montero. Wow, beautiful. Really inspired selection of music. This is gorgeous. Totally unexpected. Free of pomp and circumstance. Very emotional, optimistic piece of music. How do they keep their instruments from going out of tune in such cold weather? By the way, Obama is now the 44th President of the United States. It's past noon. The swearing-in is just a formality.
12:04: John Roberts administers the oath. Man, he's young. Ok, here we go. I love the way Obama smiles. Jumps his cue but keeps his cool. Damn, I love this guy. Thank God the Bush-era is over. I feel more optimistic about politics than I was when I was 18. Butterflies in my stomach when Feinstein introduces him as our President.
12:07: Speech commences.
(Thanks for the copyediting, Jodi)