January 24, 2009

Our 44th President

I watched the inauguration on Tuesday. It had to have been an incredible experience to witness it in person with the 1.8 million other folks filling the Mall. Another great moment in the history in our nation's capitol. There was of course a little extra poignancy being the day after Martin Luther King Jr Day and with memories of the March on Washington and the "I have a dream" speech running through your head.

Beneath and behind all the pomp and circumstance was the peaceful transition from president to president, from party to party. It is a testament to our nation, to our democracy. There were a few unscripted moments that brought a smile - George H.W. Bush following a salute to a serviceman with a pat on the soldier's leg and George W. Bush giving a low five to the woman coordinating things as he made his way out. Kind of like the private moments behind the scenes at your wedding that no one sees but you.

Some of the few folks in D.C. not watching the inauguration were the guys swapping out furniture, files, and everything else at the White House while the ceremony was in progress. Employees at the National Museum of American History also had a sleepover in the museum to be in place for the expected 40,000 visitors on Inauguration Day.

The speech was good. Not one of sweeping enthusiasm - more confident with a large dose of reality. While acknowledging the path of challenges before us, he spoke about the strength of our nation, our people, our ideals. There is plenty of work to be done, and I thought the tone was appropriate.

One of the promises of the new administration is to be more open and transparent. One of the plans in this direction is a weekly address from the President that will be posted at WhiteHouse.gov. The first one is below, and it discusses the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan currently in front of Congress. The address mentions an additional bit of disclosure:

Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible. We’ll launch an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov.
The website will be up as soon as the bill is passed. Here's hoping there is real change for 2009.

No comments: