January 20th, 2008 will be remembered by historians as the day that the first African-American was sworn in as the President of the United States. It was truly an amazing day. Some will compare it with the Apollo landing on the moon, or perhaps the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. In the 27 years that I’ve been in the US, I have not witnessed an event where the whole world stopped and watched with such hope and anticipation.
So what stood out? Here’s my list:
1) The chuckle on Obama’s face when Chief Justice Roberts missed his lines. It tells me this Obama guy is a real cool dude.
2) “Everybody notice how good looking Michele is?” asked Obama at several of the Inaugural Balls. I’m not sure I heard that one from a sitting President in the last 30 years (I won’t name names). It shows that Barack knows exactly who’s in charge, and that he needs to keep her happy.
3) So many superstars in the Lincoln Memorial Concert—Stevie Wonder, Bono, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Tom Hanks, etc. If McCain had won, we’d just have a bunch of country songs. Is Hollywood back?
4) Speaking of the Concert, who’s kid was it that was sleeping right behind the Obama’s with her mouth wide open? It goes to show that even with Superstars around, you can’t impress everyone.
5) While we’re on the topic of kids, Malia and Sasha, were about as well behaved as any kids I could remember in such a public event. Either they’re very scared of their Mom or Grandma (for some reason, I don’t believe for a second that they’re scared of their Dad), or they’ve been well schooled in manners, or maybe both. The First Family will undoubtedly be a role model for many families in the US.
6) Cornyn from Texas—the single Senator who decided to ruin the day for Obama by withholding his support for the Clinton nomination. Politics will always be politics, but maybe the miracle is that only one Republican opposed her.
7) Keith Oberman will be out of work—the notorious anti-Bush MSNBC personality (he’s not really a reporter or a newsman, so full of opinions is he) will have no one to bash. Many in the entertainment industry also fear that this President will not give them enough comedy material. The comedians, however, are relieved that Joe Biden is the VP and will provide plenty of fodder.
8) China decided to censor part of the Obama speech, where he lumped “communism” together with “fascism” as ideas that were dead. Of course, the Chinese Communist Party will say that they removed it to prevent its citizens from becoming anti-American. Some things never change.
9) What words did Obama utter the most in his Inaugural speech? Nation, America, People, Work, Generation, World, Common, Time, Seek, and Spirit—these were the 10 words that were used most frequently in his speech, and in that order. Do you see a theme developing?
10) How many people were crying? The TV coverage showed a remarkable number of people moved to tears because of the occasion, even within the TV studios where the anchormen and women were often found speechless. It was less reporting, but more cheerleading. But that’s ok. This is the one day on the calendar for America to celebrate royalty, its own Presidency, and to feel proud for what it could do once every 4 years.
Joseph Lee is an independent consultant and executive coach. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management where he teaches a second-year MBA course in Management Consulting. In addition, Mr. Lee is also an author, writing International Business Thrillers, including his debut novel The Sky Burns Red (赤く燃える空) which was published in Japan. A sequel is scheduled to be released Spring, 2009.