Four years and one re-election after Barack Obama became America’s first black president, some of the thrill is gone.
Yes, the inauguration of a U.S. president is still a big deal. But the ceremony that Washington will stage in a few weeks won’t be the heady, historic affair it was in 2009, when nearly 2 million people flocked to the National Mall to see Obama take the oath of office. This time, District of Columbia officials expect between 600,000 and 800,000 people for Obama’s public swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 21.
“There certainly will not be the sort of exultation you saw four years ago,” said Mike Cornfield, a George Washington University political science professor. One reason why, Cornfield said, is it lacks the transfer of power from one president to the next.
“This is not a change that commands people’s interest automatically,” Cornfield said.
Even Obama admits he’s already, shall we say, a little washed-up the second time around.
“I think that a lot of folks feel that, ‘Well, he’s now president. He’s a little grayer. He’s a little older,’” the president often told supporters while campaigning for re-election.
His inaugural committee has scaled back to three days of festivities, instead of four. Some changes are on account of the recovering economy and a desire by planners to ease the burden on law enforcement.