New president cheered, old one jeered
WASHINGTON – They came to cheer a new president. Some came to jeer the old one as well.
As a helicopter carried George W. Bush away from the U.S. capital where he has served as president for the past eight years, those in the crowd sang the taunting sports anthem, “Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye.”
The 43rd president certainly didn’t hear them. But he might have seen the “Arrest Bush” signs waved by some spectators as he rode in the presidential limousine toward the Capitol with his successor Barack Obama.
He also might have heard the chants of “No more Bush” shortly before the swearing-in ceremony began.
The sentiment was apparently widespread.
“People have been coming up to me all day saying, ‘Nice sign, let me take a picture,’” said Washington prison guard Jewell Lee, 44, referring to her styrofoam sign that said simply: “GET OUT.”
Some in the crowd taunted Bush with his own words and slogans.
“We are the Deciders,” read one hand-lettered sign, in a jab at the man who famously styled himself “The Decider.”
A couple miles north of the inaugural festivities, a painted bedsheet hung out the window of a house in Washington’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood read “Mission Accomplished,” echoing a banner hung behind Bush at a rally shortly after the invasion of Iraq.
Among the hundreds of thousands jamming the Washington mall, Obama hats, buttons and shirts were common. Many said they had traveled long distances to witness the swearing-in of America’s first black president.
That goodwill might not last forever.
“I don’t care what color he is,” said Garrell Winstead, a 67-year-old real estate investor from Cincinnati, Ohio. “If the economy doesn”t improve and if he doesn’t create enough jobs, patience will evaporate.”
(Writing by Andy Sullivan; reporting by Diane Bartz, Mason, Randall Mikkelsen, Paul Rucker, Andrea Shalal-esa, Jim Wolf, Deborah Zabarenko and Patrick Rucker)
Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar (A helicopter carrying former President George W. Bush leaves the U.S. Capitol following the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20)