Best & Worst From Inaugural

UCSB's Corwin Pavilion was a swell place to watch the inauguration Tuesday morning: Hundreds of people packed the hall, whooping and hollering and, in a touching moment, standing as one when Obama took the oath of office. Plus: hot Italian roast coffee and those chocolate donuts with the sprinkles on top, all for $2 cash money. Here's a look at the Best and the Worst from the inaugural.

Media Mavens

Best: David Gergen. Gergen has a mellifluous voice that would make it nice to hear him read the phone book, and he always comes up with an interesting point that no one else has mentioned. On Tuesday, he noted how different the over-amped, over-hyped, Big-Screen-TV-on-Every-Street Corner event is from most of the inaugurals in history: "Early inaugurations had no amplification only about 50 people could hear the speech."

Worst: Wolf Blitzer. Would that only 50 people had to listen this guy. In the space of 10 minutes, Wolfie a) raised the brilliant question, "What are your thoughts?" to the ubiquitous panel of pundits ("It's been said by everybody but one more person has to repeat it," Paul Begala responded. Really? Why?); b) excitedly interrupted a reporter to announce that CNN was getting ready to air "as soon as it's available" - a shot of the crowd from a satellite in outer space (What, no hologram? The promised outer space shot never showed up, anyway) and c) talked over the Marine Band to tell us what great musicians make up the Marine Band. Here's a suggestion, Wolfman: Shut Up For Two Minutes and let us hear the damn band for ourselves.


Best: George H.W. Bush. The original Bushman is forced to walk with a cane these days because of back surgery, but even in obvious pain, he worked the crowd on the podium in his Old Yankee genial style, a true gentleman of the old school.

Worst: Bill Clinton. Bubba put on a frightful frown before making his second banana entrance with Hillary. It seemed pretty clear what the source of his distress was: he wasn't the center of attention in a special day that wasn't all about him.

Ex-Vice Presidents

Best: Al Gore. Prince Albert looks like he's been working out hard with the knife and the fork, but his jolly manner revealed the look of a man who knows in his heart that a Nobel and an Oscar trump the intractable headache of being president.

Worst: Dan Quayle. Talk about your ghosts of inaugurals past. Like Gore, Quayle looks like he's wearing elastic waistband trousers these days, and his continuing efforts to put a look of somber steeliness on his frat boy face are still amusing. But the scary part was seeing wife Marilyn, the Sarah Palin prototype, again; the horror, the horror:


Best: Aretha Franklin. Ms. R-E-S-P-E-C-T wore a gorgeous pill box number adorned with a gem-encrusted bow the size of a helicopter propeller. Only she could have pulled it off, as she delivered a sweet and soulful cover of "America' including the second verse.

Worst: Bush I. 41 looked like he was waiting for Todd Palin to arrive any minute with a dog sled, as he sported a Rocky and Bullmoose brown fur number with major ear flaps that must have cost the lives of several dozen varmints.

Oath Administrators

Best: Justice John Paul Stevens. Mr. Associate Justice pulled off his swearing in of Vice President Joe Biden without a hitch, even though he had to keep a close eye on Jill, in case she accidentally dropped what appeared to be the World's Biggest Bible on his toe.

Worst. Chief Justice John Roberts. The presidential oath is only 35 words long, but Roberts managed to mangle it, misplacing the word "faithfully" as he tried to do the job from memory instead of using the text. In his defense, Obama stepped on Roberts' first line, blurting out his name while the justice was still talking; the net effect was an embarrassing Alphonse-Gaston routine between the two most powerful guys in America. Harvard Law, indeed.

Supporting Players

Best: Malia Obama. With sister Sasha, the president's older daughter was a delight to watch, smiling and enjoying every minute of the ceremonies without a glimmer of self-consciousness or attitude. Her best moment came after her dad finished his speech and she handed her digital camera to Biden, instructing him to take some photos for her of the new president hugging people. The veep immediately complied.

Worst: Steney Hoyer. The Democrats' House Majority Leader was in the congressional leadership delegation that escorted President Bush to the podium, then reappeared moments later as part of Obama's posse. "I decided to come back" he yukked to someone, in a way loud voice that got picked up on TV when all the attention should have been on the new president. Yeah, Steney, it's all about you, baby.

Fashion Statements

Best: Michelle Obama. The Fashion Police delivered plenty of darts to her for choosing a sparkly, canary colored Isabel Toledo dress and coat ensemble ("she looks like a sofa," hissed one critic) over a more traditional, mousy First Lady look, but CL says she looked fahbulous.

Worst: Dianne Feinstein. When Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco, she made a big deal out of forbidding women who worked in her office from wearing pants suits on grounds it was too informal. But on the day she gets the gig of a lifetime as Mistress of Ceremonies, she shows up:in pants. Sheesh.

Who Is That Guy?

Best: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader kept changing his look on the podium, going in the space of 20 minutes from a bare-headed Mr. Potter in his wheel-chaired entrance; to the Guy Next Door Shoveling Snow, in kicky wraparound ear muffs; to Boss of the Five Families, bedecked in a pure evil black homburg.

Worst: Dick Blum. Feinstein's tall, lanky and never-shy investor husband managed to get himself in most of the money shots, looming over the new president's left shoulder as Obama took the oath, stirring instant comparisons to Woody Allen's Zelig.

TV Angles

Best: Moving day. Moments before the ceremonies began, CNN got a lovely life-goes-on shot of a moving van parked behind the White House with guys moving the Obama's cardboard boxes into their new home.

Worst: Rick Warren. America's most trusted news network inexplicably spent the better part of Rev. Rick's invocation on crowd reaction shots, before ever showing the man himself. Given the controversy Obama stirred by selecting the anti-gay marriage mega-church leader for the job, it was an odd choice from the control booth.

Memorable Lines

Best: Grow up. In a disappointing inaugural address, Obama's best line paraphrased 1 Corinthians 13:11. Declaring that "the time has come to set aside childish things," the new president basically told Americans to start acting like adults. Although his tone at times was almost hectoring, Obama gets big points for treating us with respect with his tough love call for "a new era of responsibility."

Worst: What about the Dalai Lama? In talking tough to the mujadeen, Obama said that America's religious diversity was a great strength, naming "Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers." Good thing Buddhists see the whole thing as illusion.

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