Biden/Harris Inauguration 2021

Written by  //  January 25, 2021  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  No comments

A selection of coverage and details that I found particularly informative and/or evocative. 

Joe Biden memorialized the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19 during a vigil in Washington late on Tuesday afternoon, Inauguration eve, as many Americans took to social media in collective mourning. Performances included Lori Key, a registered nurse from the Detroit-metro area, whose video of her singing to health care staff went viral, and gospel artist Yolanda Adams who gave a beautiful a capella rendition of [Vice President Harris’ fellow Westmount High alumnus) Leonard Cohen’s Halleluja. (C-Span video].

Inaugural Address by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
“This is America’s day, this is democracy’s day, the day of history and hope. Today we celebrate a triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause. We have learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile. At this hour my friends, Democracy has prevailed.”
Widely praised Joe Biden’s speech written by Indian American

America’s first youth poet laureate delivers powerful inauguration message
Amanda Gorman captured the nation with her reading of “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.
Transcript of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem

Joe Biden’s inaugural address gives hope to the millions who stutter
Biden is an important role model because he has begun to talk openly about stuttering and because he has demonstrated that one can still stutter while communicating well and achieving astonishing goals.
Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate, has speech and auditory processing issues
Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in kindergarten. She also has speech articulation issues that make it difficult for her to pronounce certain words and sounds.

Daniel Bush: In Biden’s unusual inauguration, many find optimism despite challenges ahead
(PBS) The inaugural address lasted a little more than 20 minutes. Once it was over Biden left to drop by the Capitol and Arlington Cemetery, review the troops and finally make his way to the White House, where he got to work signing his first round of executive orders. Many of them were aimed at dismantling Trump’s policies on climate change, immigration and other issues.
With that, the Biden presidency got underway.
Biden’s allies said he met the moment, projecting calm in a moment of national crisis. Many Democrats also said they breathed a deep sigh of relief when Biden was sworn in and Trump was officially no longer in charge. … Even Republicans, at least on Biden’s first day as president, said there was reason to feel some optimism about the country’s future.

Brookings scholars reflect on the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, America’s 46th president
This inauguration spoke to today’s—and tomorrow’s—America – William H. Frey
His pledges to confront systemic racism, repeal the Muslim immigrant ban, and enable new Americans to join the ranks of our population is consistent with the evolving social and demographic needs of our nation.
When finalized, the 2020 census will show that people of color—including many first- and second-generation Americans—will contribute to most of the growth of our nation’s population, especially its youth and younger labor force. The new president’s plans to invest in the well-being of these youth (comprised heavily of Latino or Hispanic and Black Americans) are essential to their prosperity as well as that of the nation.

Stephen Colbert: President Biden’s Joyful Inauguration Day Felt Like A Return To Normalcy
While the socially distanced crowd and the glaring absence of an outgoing president made for a most unusual Inauguration Day for Joe Biden, a sense of optimism prevailed as did the feeling that a return to ‘normal’ may be possible.

Watch Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and Garth Brooks’ Patriotic Performances
Gaga gave a spectacular rendition of the national anthem, while Lopez opened with “This Land Is Your Land” before transitioning into “America The Beautiful,” to which she added in Spanish One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!   [For those who objected that the original words were not sung,  see The Story Of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’.] Garth Brooks also performed “Amazing Grace” and invited the audience at the Capitol and viewers around the world to join in the final chorus.

Highlights of Biden’s Inauguration Day: The Ceremonies, Parades, Protests and Performances
Critic’s notebook: The ‘Celebrating America’ TV special offers a light in the darkness.
The Wednesday night prime-time special marking Inauguration Day — produced in lieu of the traditional, pandemic-unfriendly balls — was called “Celebrating America.” But the tone that the program struck in its opening minutes was less one of celebration, exactly, than … relief? Resolve? Or just a brief respite? …the spirit, as Bruce Springsteen strummed an acoustic guitar on the nighttime stage of the Lincoln Memorial, was less “We did it!” than, “Whew, we made it. Didn’t we? For now?”
One reason for the mood was visually obvious. Mr. Springsteen sang “Land of Hope and Dreams” to the vast, empty expanse between the memorial and the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool lined with lights installed in luminous tribute to Americans who have died of Covid-19.

The virtual Inauguration Day  “Parade Across America” was an impressive pastiche of enthusiasm, grace, talent, emotion and quirkiness from across the land – more informal than the traditional parade, it was endearing and memorable as we saw the performers in their own settings rather than in parade formation.

Nobody cared about the sartorial images (such as they were) of the men of the previous administrations; recent focus was on  Melania’s stilettos in the garden or the infamous Zara jacket. She did have brief competition from Kellyanne Conway on Inauguration Day 2017 and comparisons with Ivanka always lurked. Now, however, with the presence of so many important and  influential women in the Biden circle, scrutiny of what they wear will be as relentless as coverage of their policy statements and actions.

Why did so many women wear purple to Biden’s inauguration today?
(The Hill) Vice President Harris and others in attendance wore the color purple on Inauguration Day.
Their fashion choices spurred speculation, with some crediting the idea of unity.
Others pointed to the historical association of purple with the women’s suffrage movement and Shirley Chisholm.”That is a nod to Shirley Chisholm who has inspired her political career,” said Phillips. Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, adopted yellow and purple as her campaign’s colors when she ran for president in 1972, the first Black woman to do so.
The color purple is also associated with suffragists and was first worn by the Women’s Social and Political Union in England to represent “the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity,” according to the National Parks Service.
The Deep Meaning of the Color Purple at the Biden Inauguration
It’s the color of royalty, the badge of honor bestowed on heroic soldiers, and a call for unity at a time of political division.
(Town & Country) It’s the color of the Purple Heart, the badge of honor and bravery bestowed by the United States military on veterans wounded or killed in the line of duty. It’s the title of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the plight of African American women in the South, a parallel with meaning not lost on the occasion of the swearing in of Harris. But today the color purple was also as simple as 1, 2, 3. Paint by numbers: red + blue = purple. It was a call for unity to heal the great schism between the Republican and Democratic parties’ reds and blues.
The inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris may have been awash in the color purple, however Dr. Jill Biden’s dress for the Celebrating America special was the real showstopper. Her ivory coat and matching dress, which offered special meaning for the First Lady: According to a press release from designer Gabriela Hearst, federal flowers from every state and territory of the United States were embroidered into the gown.

Biden inauguration: Katy’s anthem, Bernie’s mittens and other moments
(BBC) Joe Biden is officially president, Kamala Harris is the country’s first Madam Vice-President and Donald Trump flew off to play golf – all of that we expected.
But here’s a look at those inauguration day moments you might have missed, some solemn, some emotional, but also the podium wipe guy. …
A nod to Senator Cory Booker for one of the coldest barbs of the day.
The New Jersey Democrat got a ton of reaction for his Facebook post welcoming the inauguration no-show of the 45th president, Donald Trump, by saying “the temperature was -45.”

Inauguration Day may have belonged to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but the Internet’s ever-inventive memelords made Bernie Sanders steal the spotlight. The beloved Vermont senator and former presidential candidate was spotted sitting cross-legged, masked, bundled in a bulky coat, and equipped with an excellent pair of fuzzy mittens (The handwarming story of how Bernie Sanders got his inauguration mittens) during the socially distanced swearing-in ceremony, which took place in the frigid Washington weather. Within hours, edited versions of the image—taken by the photographer Brendan Smialowsky for Getty Images—were unleashed on social media. Our personal favorite is Bernie as Andrew Wyeth subject:

P.S. Bernie Sanders turned his inauguration meme into a sweatshirt to raise money for charity.

Capitol Police officer who faced down pro-Trump mob escorts Harris at inauguration
Eugene Goodman, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who faced down a mob of pro-Trump rioters during the attack on the U.S. Capitol building this month, escorted Vice President Harris at the inauguration.
Goodman accompanied Harris in his role as the new acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms.
Selecting Goodman as Harris’s escort was a powerful acknowledgment of his actions on Jan 6. He is being considered by lawmakers for the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest awards a civilian can receive in the United States, for his bravery during the assault.

Domestic details
A look inside Biden’s Oval Office
President Biden has filled the Oval Office with images of American leaders and icons, focusing the room around a massive portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt that hangs across from the Resolute Desk. It is a clear nod to a president who helped the country through significant crises, a challenge Biden now also faces.
The Oval Office is synonymous with the power and majesty of the American presidency. All incoming presidents change the decor of the largely symbolic room to offer a sense of their personality and the type of presidency they hope to have. Biden’s is notable for the sheer number of portraits and busts of well-known American historical figures.
Some are paired, with paintings of former president Thomas Jefferson and former treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton hung near each other — the two men frequently disagreed and were placed together to illustrate the benefits that come from differing views. Biden’s office said the paintings were twinned as “hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy.”
Busts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy flank a fireplace in the office. Biden often refers to the impact both men made on the country as part of the civil rights movement.
Biden is also nodding to segments of the Democratic Party’s base via historical references. Behind the Resolute Desk is a bust of Cesar Chavez. The office also includes busts of Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt and a sculpture depicting a horse and rider by Allan Houser of the Chiricahua Apache tribe that once belonged to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) — the first Japanese American elected to both houses of Congress.
A painting of Benjamin Franklin is intended to represent Biden’s interest in following science. The painting is stationed near a moon rock set on a bookshelf that is intended to remind Americans of the ambition and accomplishments of earlier generations.
The room also includes paired paintings of former presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and a bust of former senator Daniel Webster, who forcefully defended the Union.
Biden kept the gold drapes that hung in President Donald Trump’s office, which had previously been in President Bill Clinton’s Oval Office. The dark blue rug was also in the office during the Clinton administration and was selected because Biden liked the deep hue of it. The furnishings, including the couches and tables, all came from the White House collection, so they will look familiar to those who watch the room closely.
One aspect of the office that hasn’t been touched: The Resolute Desk. Biden is keeping the same desk that Trump and several previous presidents have used. An aide said it had not been touched since Trump left Wednesday morning.

Surrounding a portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt are, clockwise from top left, President George Washington, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, President Thomas Jefferson and President Abraham Lincoln. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

At the White House, an impersonal ‘transfer of families’ as the Trumps leave town
Trump’s bitter refusal to concede the election or participate in inaugural events meant there would be no customary tea service between the couples ahead of Biden’s swearing-in. No outgoing president would observe the transfer of power during the inauguration at the Capitol; that duty was left to Vice President Pence. And, finally, there was no gracious welcome for the new occupants of the White House, no handshakes and photographs taken on the portico of the two couples.
…change at the White House sped forward nonetheless, marked by milestones large and small as a team of government workers raced to complete the rapid and highly choreographed transition from one first family and staff to another.
Movers unloaded furniture and installed computers. Cleaning crews scrubbed the White House residence, West Wing and East Wing, giving them an extra deep cleanse (at a reported costs of $500,000) after the departure of a Trump team that did not follow basic coronavirus safeguards. Workers hung framed photos on the West Wing walls, including a shot of Biden speaking at the New Castle, Del., airport on Tuesday.
Even without a pandemic, first families get new mattresses, and the floors, walls, shades, chandeliers and other fittings are scrubbed or steamed. Pictures are removed or rehung, personal possessions — even toiletries and clothes — are moved in and at the ready when the new occupants arrive.

UPDATE
25 January
First dogs Champ and Major moved into the White House Sunday
(CNN) The first dogs have entered the White House — the Bidens’ two German shepherds, Champ and Major, officially joined the first family in their new residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday.
Major is the first shelter dog to live in the White House. Earlier this month, the Delaware Humane Association, where he was adopted from, and Pumpkin Pet Insurance hosted a virtual celebration — an “Indoguration Party” — for Major.

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