US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave to supporters as they walk along Pennsylvania Ave during the parade following his inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. (PHOTO CREDIT:ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Most of them want to do it. Presidents during the inaugural parade often like to be outside the confines of their bulletproof, bomb proof, everything-proof limousine the Secret Service lovingly calls "The Beast."
It gives them a chance to get closer to the people, who in many cases, have traveled far and endured a certain amount of hardship for the slight chance they'll get to see the President, up close and personal.
Jimmy Carter was the first to do this in 1977.
When the nation's new first couple exited the car yesterday, people began screaming and cheering along the parade route. It was like Elvis had suddenly appeared in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.
And while the Obamas appeared relaxed and enjoyed the interaction with the crowd, don't kid yourself. For the Secret Service, it was a very tense time. When he's exposed like that, they can't guarantee his safety.
You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when our new President decided to return to the safety of the presidential limousine.
Barack Obama lives inside the Presidential bubble now, and he doesn't have the freedom he enjoyed prior to noon yesterday when he became the leader of the free world.
Here’s my question to you: Was it brave or foolish for President Obama to leave the limo and walk several blocks during the inaugural parade?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
My friend, CNN Contributor Donna Brazile, said the inauguration of the first African-American U.S. President is a day to rejoice. On CNN.com, she explains why President Obama succeeded where others before him have failed.
What surprises you the most?
Only four years ago, Barack Obama became the junior senator from Illinois. He was a virtual unknown.
Brazile, a Democratic strategist, believes the key to President Obama's success was that he did not run as a black candidate, unlike people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. He ran as a progressive Democrat.
Brazile points out that most people thought it would simply make the campaign trail interesting when Obama decided to run. No one expected yesterday's events to be the culmination of that decision.
But on a cold night in Iowa, Obama knocked off Hillary Clinton in arguably the whitest place in America, and it was game on. He won primary after primary including Georgia and Virginia, the former seat of the Confederacy. And in the general election, he mopped the floor with John McCain.
The American people didn't see a black man when they looked at Obama; they saw someone who held out hope for a better future for them and their families. It's all pretty amazing stuff.
Here’s my question to you: What surprises you most about Barack Obama's climb to the presidency?
Barack Obama is hosting the party of a lifetime, and it seems that there's no penny pinching going on in spite of the recession.
US President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave during yesterday's 'We Are One' concert, one of the events of Obama's inauguration celebrations.
Estimates are that total costs for Obama's inauguration celebration could reach, or even exceed, $160 million. Obama has raised an estimated $41 million to help cover the costs of things like the train ride from Philadelphia to Washington on Saturday, and the star studded concert featuring U2, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and others yesterday. There's also the actual swearing in ceremony tomorrow with a price tag of $1.24 million and 10 official inaugural balls. Not to mention the cost of security and those 5,000 port-a-potties.
Four years ago, Democrats warned President Bush about an extravagant inauguration calling it inappropriate during a time of war. Today, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, the unemployment rate is the worst since 1945, consumer confidence is down along with the stock market and companies announce daily they are laying off people, closing stores or going out of business altogether.
But not a peep from the Democrats about the costs of Obama's inauguration. See, he's one of theirs.
And if you want to lose your appetite for dinner, consider this. The biggest donors for the inaugural festivities are recently bailed out Wall Streeters. Is this a great country or what?
Here’s my question to you: In light of the sour economy, does an extravagant inauguration celebration send the wrong message?
Sometimes things work out the way they're supposed to. Today is Martin Luther King Day, a holiday set aside to honor the slain civil rights leader. Without him, tomorrow would never have happened. Tomorrow Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. The first African-American president we've ever had.
Martin Luther King would be 80 if he were alive today.
It's been almost 46 years since Dr. King, who would be 80 if he were alive today, led the march on Washington and delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech. From segregation, lynchings, water cannons and police dogs to the Oval Office in less than half a century. Dr. King would be very proud.
According to a CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, 49% of Americans believe the U.S. has fulfilled Martin Luther King's vision laid out on that day: 69% of African-Americans and 46% of Whites.
A lot is riding on Obama. He is making history in a way his predecessors have not. Not since the late John F. Kennedy has so much hope been placed at the feet of one man by so many. It's going to be a helluva ride, and if Barack Obama can pull this off, our country is going to re-emerge from eight years of winter.
Here’s my question to you: If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, what would he say about Barack Obama’s inauguration?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
In 12 days Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. He has huge challenges in front of him starting with the crumbling economy and two wars.
Is the honeymoon already over?
Hopes are high for him to turn things around and indications are that he will. According to a new Gallup Poll 65% of Americans are confident in President-elect Obama's ability to be a good President. This is down slightly from the 70% approval rating he had a week ago.
Last month a CNN Opinion poll found that 82% of Americans approved of how Obama is handling his transition.
Since returning from his Hawaiian vacation, Mr. Obama has encountered a couple of bumps in the road. The situation in Gaza (which he's stayed away from by deferring to President Bush), criticism of Leon Panetta as his choice for CIA Director, Bill Richardson withdrawing his nomination for Commerce Secretary, and official stats that the deficit is projected at more than $1.2 Trillion this year. All this before he's even moved into the Oval Office.
Here’s my question to you: Has your confidence in President-elect Barack Obama declined any since the election?
(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration is going to be a huge celebration bringing millions of people to Washington D.C. to party.
In order to literally keep the party going all night long, the city council passed emergency legislation this week allowing bars, night clubs and restaurants to stay open around the clock from January 17th until January 21st.
People could disagree about whether this is a real good idea. Yesterday, the leader of the Washington D.C. police union told the Washington Post he's worried that police resources could be insufficient during Inauguration weekend because of extended hours for clubs, bars and restaurants.
He said the officers in the seven precincts that serve the district will be spread thin and the amount of manpower needed for these extended bar hours is unknown. What is known, or can be reasonably assumed, is that if between three and five million people descend on Washington for the inauguration and the bars are open around the clock there could be problems.
Here’s my question to you: Is it a good idea to keep the bars in Washington D.C. open 24 hours a day for four days during inauguration week?
Oprah's going to Washington along with everyone else. The daytime Diva plans to do her television show from the Nation's Capitol during inauguration week.
Estimates are that 3 million people may show up for this historic event...the swearing in of the first Black President. The mayor of Washington says it could be as many as 5 million.
Some will come to watch and some to celebrate. There will be numerous parties and even formal balls.
But according to a CNN opinion poll out today about the economy, 79 percent of Americans say things are going badly in the country right now and 42 percent say the recession is serious.
News of layoffs and pleas for government bailouts continue. The bad news about the economy shows no sign of letting up, so is it really time for a huge celebration?
Obama insiders won't reveal any details of the inauguration plans but they tell CNN the party will go on. We just don't know how big a party it will be.
Here’s my question to you: Should Barack Obama scale back his inauguration celebration in light of the economic crisis facing the country?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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