Day By Day

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Far We've Come

That's what a lot of commentators have been saying today, and invariably their reference is to the civil rights movement. Well, here's another perspective. The above photograph was shot in 1857 and is the first inaugural picture ever taken. The occasion is the swearing in of President James Buchanan, the only Pennsylvanian ever elected President. Note the size and attitude of the crowd. Now look below at the crowd attending Obama's swearing in. Quite a difference, eh?

Adam Kirch puts his finger on what bothers me about modern inaugurations, especially this one we just witnessed.

There was inevitably something imperial about the inauguration today: the praetorian pomp, the Capitoline backdrop, the giant crowds, all seemed more redolent of Caesar than George Washington.
Read it here.

I don't know it if is inevitable, but it sure seems to be what people want. It just seems to me to be more than a bit too much.