Kicking Off Obama’s New Term

WASHINGTON Here on Capitol Hill, the gods in charge of seating arrangements do something that you don’t get often: They put the press up front, albeit the kind of crane-your-neck movie theater close.

So when President Obama delivered his second inaugural address, Beyonce sang the National Anthem and Myrlie Evers Williams read a spirited inaugural poem, you really were forced to pay attention and put away the tweets. The lack of any cell phone service made sure that will happen.

I’ll have more later, but today’s ceremony was everything that is promised with inaugural pomp and circumstance. There were few gaffes — Chief Justice John Roberts seem to have practiced repeatedly to get the words just right — and the crowds, stretching down the mall, actually looked larger than expected. The weather was just slightly warmer than in 2009.

As for Obama’s address, a call for unity and an effort to reinvigorate a new sense of citizenship, only time will tell whether it survives to the history books. The age of instantaneous media has made that ever more difficult to determine the words that will endure. He did, however, disparage the “spectacle of politics,” meaning pundit driven division, not what is certainly on display today.