Tales from the Trail

Thirty-two years after leaving office, Jimmy Carter gets big cheer

Jimmy Carter got a big hand and roar of approval from a festive and perhaps somewhat charitable crowd on Monday at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Thirty-two years after leaving the White House as a defeated one-term president, the mostly Democratic gathering screamed approval for Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, as they arrived for the ceremony just outside the U.S. Capitol.

To be sure, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a potential 2016 White House contender, received a much louder embrace.

But a grinning Carter was back and so were at least some of the cheers and applause that showered him when he was sworn in as reform-minded president in 1977 in the wake of the Watergate scandal that drove Richard Nixon from office.

All living former presidents are traditionally invited to the presidential inauguration.

Ninety-two-year-old “Tuskegee Airman” salutes racial progress, Obama

WASHINGTON – They were treated like second-class citizens in World War Two – but overcame racial prejudice to emerge as bona fide heroes.

And on Monday, these black former “Tuskegee Airmen” were back in the front row for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

“I never thought I’d see the inauguration of a black president, and today I’m seeing one inaugurated for a second time,” said Cyril Byron, 92, of Baltimore.

McConnell: New Obama term offers divided Washington new start

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who drew fire in 2010 when he declared that his top goal was to deny President Barack Obama re-election, quickly congratulated the president on Monday as Obama began four more years in office.

Within minutes of Obama’s second inaugural address, McConnell issued a written statement expressing a willingness to take a new shot at working together.

Only time will tell if they can put past differences behind them, which included McConnell blocking Obama-backed legislation and rooting for the president to be defeated in last year’s election.

Michael J. Fox hopeful on Obama’s commitment to stem cell research

At an inauguration event at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C., actor Michael J. Fox spoke with Reuters reporter John McCrank about his hopes for the Obama administration.

Fox, afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease, expects a very productive “four-to-eight years”, saying Obama “is a fan of science and intellectual curiosity” and is committed to moving forward with research.

For more Reuters political news, please click here.

The First Draft: The first day

The inauguration celebrations are over and the clean up begins as Barack Obama prepares for his first full day of work. OBAMA/

It’s a big job. The recession shows no signs of easing and Wall Street ushered in the new presidency with a record Inauguration Day slide. Obama’s choice for treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, will likely be asked at his Senate nomination hearing about the state of the economy and the new administration’s plans to shore up banks sagging under the burden of bad investment decisions.

Obama’s first day in the Oval Office is expected to be busy. He begins with the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral and plans an open house for the public at the White House in the afternoon. He will also meet with economic advisers to discuss his proposed economic stimulus plan and proposals for dealing with bad bank assets.

from Ask...:

Judging “The Speech” — what did you think?

Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States on Tuesday. In his much-anticipated inaugural speech, he said the “economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

But the new president also said the United States remained “the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth,” and that “we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

What did you think of the speech? Did it meet the hype? Were you moved, or dismayed?

Rhyming reverend gets last word at Obama inaugural

WASHINGTON – Rev. Joseph Lowery was back on stage with a president, but on Tuesday the civil-rights pioneer used his wry rhymes to welcome the U.S. leader, not skewer him as he did three years ago.  OBAMA

Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr., delivered the benediction at Barack Obama’s inauguration as first black U.S. president.

Lowery prayed for healing from a era of “greed and corruption,” and asked, in verse, for divine help toward a new beginning of racial harmony:

Activists “shoe” Bush out the White House door

Critics of outgoing President George W. Bush turned a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House into a  rowdy street theater on the eve of his handover of power to Barack Obama.

An activist coalition calling itself ShoeBush.org piled a motley collection of dozens of old shoes, including tan combat boots said to have been worn by U.S. troops in Iraq and children’s bright yellow flip-flops, at what amounted to Bush’s doorstep.

“We wanted to shoo and boo Bush on his last day in office,” said Ann Wilcox of Washington D.C., who marched with the group of about 500 peace activists.

Wall Street ponies up for Obama inauguration

It’s been a brutal year for Wall Street, but the high rollers apparently still love a big, expensive party.

People who work in the finance industry have given at least $4.8 million to underwrite Barack Obama’s inauguration party, more than any other business sector, according to an analysis by the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics.CALVIN KLEIN

Obama’s team appears to have reached the $40 million goal it set to pay for the festivities. Roughly $6.8 million has come from those giving less than $200, according to the committee. But large donors have given at least $35 million.

Second thoughts about attending the inauguration? Try the TV

If the prospect of walking for miles in icy temperatures and heavy security is giving you second thoughts about attending the inauguration, Barack Obama has a suggestion.

Watch it on TV.

Or the Internet.

Or better yet, organize an inaugural ball in OBAMA/your neighborhood.

“You’ve probably heard the reports that unprecedented numbers of Americans are planning to join us in Washington,” Obama said Wednesday in a statement released by Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009.

“That will mean long lines, a tough time getting around, and most of all, a lot of walking on what could be a very cold winter day,” Obama warned.