As I discussed in my column yesterday, I stayed at home today to watch the inauguration with my kids and to celebrate America’s 71st time that a democratically elected president has taken the oath of office (and our 58th formal inauguration). While my brother and family from Chicago went to the Mall to protest, we raised a toast to the country and the new president for the future. On this day, we celebrate a constitutional system that has weathered wars, depression, social unrest and every type of national crisis. Yet, it (and we) remain. There are many constitutions that are more poetic in language or detailed in powers, but none has the record of this amazing document. It is the common article of faith of a free people and today’s ceremony represented our commitment to a nation governed by a free people.
I was on the mall last night to do interviews and it was a rather surreal experience with streets cut off and massive tents on the Mall. I watched the fireworks from the media tent between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. In a foreshadowing of today, there was a protest at the Trump Hotel where pepper spray was used by police. Over all, it was quiet however and, away from the White House, the streets like Constitution were largely abandoned late at night. Since my car could not get anywhere near the Mall (a change from prior inaugurations), I ended up walking a couple miles to find the car sent by the studio. It was actually very interesting to walk through the streets the night before. There was a sense of something immense about to happen.
I tend to be a stickler for tradition and, for that reason, I was very disappointed to see Nancy Pelosi sporting a button to protect health care. Politicians are expected to put politics aside and appear in a unified nonpartisan front. She was right to appear and not yield to the impulse of over 50 Democratic members to boycott the Inauguration. However, she snatched pettiness out of the jaws of dignity by wearing a political button. I share the concern over health care but there is a time and place for advocacy. I noticed that in the executive order signing shortly after the Inauguration, Pelosi was no longer wearing a button.
I had the same reaction to those people in the crowd chanting “Lock Her Up” when Hillary Clinton came out. It was a remarkably classless act and trashed our tradition of coming together as a nation.