AP News
Posted: Jan 21, 2013 10:12 PM

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti closes Inauguration Watch by summing up the day's events and what they might mean.


No, this wasn't the euphoric celebration of 2009 that mesmerized a hungry nation clinging to promises of hope and change. Those times are long past.

But the inauguration of 2013 was history-making in its own right. It opened a new chapter in America's story — and Obama's, too.

We saw a confident president again promise to lead the nation. Only this time, as he took the oath of office, he was speaking to a country filled with fear and anxiety. Many Americans worry that we are in a state of perpetual decline. Many despise the fact that our politics have become so polarized and partisan. And many fear the country will slide back into recession because of it.

We saw Republicans — for one day, at least — choose not to fight with the president. Rather, they joined him in celebrating — through, gritted teeth, perhaps — this uniquely American day.

We saw Vice President Joe Biden take his turn at glad-handing the parade crowd, sharing the spotlight with the president and, perhaps, setting the stage for his own presidential run in 2016.

We saw Michelle Obama look radiant in a custom-made Jason Wu gown to the inauguration balls. The ruby-colored, velvet and chiffon evening dress was her final outfit of a day that began with her in a Thom Browne navy-silk, checkered-patterned coat and dress. And her new hairstyle: bangs or, as they are often called today, fringes.

We saw Malia Obama, 14, and Sasha, 11, at turns poised and playful as they embarked on their dad's second term as young ladies, the bulk of their childhoods now behind them.

We saw only half as many people show up to see Obama's inaugural address as in 2008. Somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million came to National Mall, compared with 1.8 million four years ago. We saw Washington turn into Hollywood and a music mecca, for a few hours at least as celebrities swarmed the city. We saw that it's possible to hold an inauguration in above-freezing temperatures, an anomaly for January in Washington.

And we saw that even in the most divisive of times, even amid the harshest of words, the house that our founding fathers built more than two centuries ago still stands tall, no matter what kind of politics the moment might hold.

— Liz Sidoti — Twitter http://twitter.com/lsidoti