Basking in the adulatory afterglow, our new president savored a cigarette and crossed his Nike high-tops on the Resolute Desk, while crews in coveralls stabbed 130 tons of trash into black plastic bags.
Two weeks downstream of the Obamagasm on the Mall, Barack has decided to cut the White House staff some slack: He relaxed the dress code, for starters. According to The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Obama shows up for work around 9 a.m. " two hours later than Bush " and the Oval Office coat-and-tie rule is history.
Who slips into a suit after shooting hoops?
According to Stolberg, the Hipster in Chief has cranked up the Oval Office thermostat, too; with all those windows, and no suit coat, 68 degrees feels chilly, plus, Al Gore might swing by " after entertaining the Senate with calls for "decisive action" " and The Guru likes it warm, too.
Outside " past frosted, bulletproof panes " the cleanup continues.
Billed as the "greenest inaugural," the months-in-production Obamathon turned out to be the dirtiest and most expensive Hollywood blowout in history.
Overtime hours mounted as workers retrieved Obama mugs, Obama buttons, Obama bags and Obama postcards. Ground into the grass were Obama hats, key chains, ties, aprons, calendars, Keds shoes, mouse-pads, posters and stickers. Some of the inaugural army vendors left behind tents and tables.
Not to worry: Nancy Pelosi's "stimulus bill" includes $21 million to re-sod the National Mall " its fescue the victim of a Shaquille O'Neal-sized carbon footprint.
The swearing-in ceremony turned out to be a venue for those who paid $50,000 for "VIP treatment and access packages" " working stiffs like Stephen Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Halle Berry, Stacey Snider and Jamie Foxx.
Stars and politicians talked, while Joe the Plumber walked. "Yes we can!" became, "Not without a ticket!"
Of the quarter-million inaugural swearing-in tickets printed by the Feds (198 given to each member of the House, and 350 given to each senator) about half were parceled out by the Presidential Inaugural Committee on behalf of Obama and Biden.
If you were an inaugural witness to "Change you can believe in!" you purchased it, first, with change you could find in your wallet.
Those who didn't pony up campaign cash watched the "historic occasion" through the bunny ears of their TV sets in the projects, or from break rooms in government offices, government schools, post offices, union halls, or from sports bars frequented by plaintiffs lawyers.
If you weren't one of the 15 million Americans working for government " and were still scrambling, instead, to hold onto your job " you missed the spectacle of Bush being booed by the "post-partisan" Democrats in the front-row seats, when he stood to honor Obama.
You also missed the embarrassing cameo of a weeping Tom Brokaw, as he blubbered into his lapel-mike about "rednecks." And you missed ABC's Bill Weir delivering the first-ever, seagull mind-meld (describing, as he did, the avian "awe" experienced by gulls during Obama-crowd overflights) " just two of the many embarrassingly sappy and subjective narratives interwoven with endless aerial crowd shots.
Upwards of 10,000 ticket-holders never saw the swearing-in ceremony, because this wasn't the Super Bowl or the Olympic Games: This was a government-produced pageant. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies issued an apology on Wednesday to the thousands of trapped ticket holders frozen against metal security gates in the midst of milling, mooing chaos.
Contrast this mayhem with the private-sector-run '96 Atlanta Olympic Games that accommodated 7 million ticket holders who watched 26 different sports and 271 different events, at venues as far away as Stone Mountain, 20 miles distant from Atlanta's downtown. Ticket packages were distributed via pre-Games lottery, and if you had a ticket to a venue, you were seated.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies wasn't on hand in Atlanta to level the playing field.
Obama's Lincoln-themed inaugural produced a Democratic Party rededicated to the proposition that all Americans should move forward, arm in arm, and united in post-partisan purpose.
Last week, in order to underscore his consensus-building efforts, President Obama issued executive orders that reinstated $400 million in aid to international groups that fund abortions, suspended trials of terrorists, and closed Guantanamo Bay.
Over on Capitol Hill, Democratic Speaker Pelosi held a press conference to announce that she "didn't come to Washington to be bipartisan."
Hitting his stride, Obama did a gig on Arab television, telling his Al-Arabiyan audience that it was his "job" to persuade Muslims that Americans are not their enemy, and, to this end, he apologized for America's dictatorial ways. If you thought the president's job was, first, to uphold and protect the Constitution, you had it wrong.
Promising to abandon the old ways of disrespect " by which reference one assumes the president was alluding to our meddling on behalf of Muslims in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghan-istan and Iraq " Obama promised to restore "the partnership that America had with the Muslim world 20 or 30 years ago."
Our 30-years-ago, Carter-era "partnership" " owing to insufficient presidential apologies " resulted in 52 U.S. diplomats spending 444 days as guests of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Inexplicably, those hostages were released on Inauguration Day, when Reagan took office.
Reagan wouldn't apologize for America, so our Muslim partnership turned to crap.
It's clear that there remains a Muslim-apology-deficit, and our Commander in Chief is putting his best foot forward in order to preempt sandal-throwing sneak attacks.
America must establish a new and conciliatory tone since " according to intelligence estimates " the Iranians will have enriched enough uranium to cobble together a crude nuclear bomb before year's end.
Obama can be firm when he needs to be: He may be extending olive branches to terrorist regimes, but Rush Limbaugh is skating on thin ice.