President Obama took a moment to soak the scene in yesterday as he left the Capitol steps following his address to hundreds of thousands on the National Mall. Obama is only one of a few dozen men who have held that commanding view during an Inauguration Day and it's surely a site and feeling to store away in the memory as one of the warmest moments in a presidency.
Just how many people witnessed this very human moment? According to an AP report, somewhere north of 800,000:
Chris Geldart, who directs the District of Columbia's homeland security and emergency management agency, says early and unofficial estimates of the number of people on the National Mall indicate a turnout higher than 800,000. That's based on aerial views of how the crowd filled sections of the mall.
Because Inauguration Day is about style and substance and even a little bipartisanship, here's Beyonce singing the National Anthem. Because she's definitely stylish, has a substantive voice and, for the most part, both sides of the aisle would vote for her.
President Obama greets singer Beyonce after she performed the National Anthem during the public ceremonial inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UPDATE: Or did Beyonce nail her performance? Not so fast on the kudos, says The Washingtonian.
But to close observers, it appeared the performer was not singing live. To press seated just below the podium, in front of the "President's Own" Marine Corps Band, it was evident that the band wasn't actually playing during the song--even though band director Colonel Michael J. Colburn was conducting energetically and the band members mimicked blowing into their instruments. Separately, at one point during her performance, Beyoncé removed her earpiece.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin took to Meet the Press Sunday morning to discuss, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca), the looming fiscal cliff, same sex marriage and Susan Rice's name in relation to the Secretary of State's office.
Durbin and McCarthy basically plumbed the same areas that have been dragged through the public back-and-forth on the fiscal cliff since the election in November - closing loopholes vs. increased tax rates for the wealthy vs. clamping down on entitlements - and managed to point the fingers of blame in the usual directions. The discussion:
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
December 8, 2012
Hello, everybody. Over the last few weeks, there's been a lot of talk about deadlines we're facing on jobs and taxes and investments. But with so much noise and so many opinions flying around, it can be easy to lose sight of what this debate is really about. It's not about which political party comes out on top, or who wins or loses in Washington. It's about making smart decisions that will have a real impact on your lives and the lives of Americans all across the country.
Right now, middle-class tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. Time is running out. And there are two things that can happen.
First, if Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1st. A typical middle-class family of four would get a $2,200 tax hike. That would be bad for families, it would be bad for businesses, and it would drag down our entire economy.
The software development community had never been entertained by its own equivalent of a "Fail" video before. And then, the Romney campaign commissioned ORCA, an ambitious software platform that was supposed to collect onsite voting information from tens of thousands of volunteers nationwide on election day, and send it to strategists at campaign HQ.
You know what I mean by a Fail video? I'm talking about those viral clips that usually begin with someone saying "Here, hold my beer and watch me do this" and ends with the camera rushing over to the spot on the side of the road where this guy is now rocking back and forth, clutching his groin in agony next to broken bits of his skateboard . . . as well as the railing that he apparently believed was made of a soft and spongy kind of iron.
These videos are entertaining because they document an absolutely unambiguous disaster that's being suffered by someone other than you. And they're genuinely fascinating, because . . . well, criminy, man! A higher lifeform wouldn't even consider making a jump from the bed of a moving flatbed truck onto a roadside trampoline. What the hell was this person even thinking?
There were so many fails about ORCA. The webapp was meant to connect tens of thousands of volunteers to a single central webserver This lone server was soon shut down by the campaign's ISP, because the sudden incoming flood of geographically-diverse hits appeared to be a denial-of-service attack. The server appeared to be inadequate for the flood of traffic anyway.
"The primary issue was we beta-tested in a different environment than the Garden [Boston Garden, where the 800 campaign staffers were working]. There was so much data coming in -- 1200 records or more per minute -- it shut down the system for a time. Users were frustrated by lag, and some people dropped off and we experienced attrition as a result."
Weekly Address: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts to Grow the Economy (transcript)
On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.
That's why I've invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together. I also intend to bring in business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington to get their ideas and input as well.
At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That's the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It's a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. It's a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it's a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.
This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit - decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future.
Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars' worth of spending, and I intend to work with both parties to do more. But as I said over and over again on the campaign trail, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue - and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That's how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that's the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing - all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.
Already, I've put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Now, I'm open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren't asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach - that includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
Now we need a majority in Congress to listen - and they should start by making sure taxes don't go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It's a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There's no reason to wait.
We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That's part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won't tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word. Not when so many of your families are still struggling.
Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That's what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me.
So hats off to the Chicago Humanities Festival, for scoring one of the better "gets" of the year, when the elusive Silver returns here Friday for a lecture at the University of Chicago, "Nate Silver on Baseball and Politics: The Numbers Don't Lie." A happy coincidence?
"It's not a coincidence," said Matti Bunzl, the festival artistic director. "We have been following him for years. The way the election was shaping up, it was so clear it would be very close, so much of the discourse would turn on polling, all issues. The fact that he has completely exploded, that we could not foresee But we assumed that he would play a pivotal role in the election, and it played out exactly as we anticipated. We assumed that by now he would be a household name." Bingo.
Silver did stop by to talk to Charlie Rose on October 30, though, and discuss his math, his politics - he claims not to vote - and all the hubbub surrounding the mild-mannered statistician as the election headed toward the boiling point:
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talked to ESPN's Chris Berman at halftime of the Monday night game. Obama predicts the Chicago Bears can win the Superbowl.
Obama is ready for a Bears Super Bowl. And while both men have had their share of fumbles with political football in this election, he knows who the real commander in chief is when it comes to getting the ball on the ground:
"Best defense in the league right now," Obama said at halftime during the New Orleans Saints win over the Philadelphia Eagles. "You saw (Sunday's) game. (Charles) Tillman may be defensive player of the year the way he's playing."