US Presidential inauguration – potential meteorological impact of millions of simultaneous signs of relief

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If all 7.7 billion of people alive on earth jumped up at the same time, apparently (when they hit the ground afterwards) there would be a huge ear-piercing sound of 200 decibels and severe ground shaking which could cause 4-8 scale earthquakes and a tsumnami with 100-feet waves.

I wondered about that prospect when I read the words “Trump departs the White House” this morning. I certainly heaved a huge sigh of relief. I should imagine that millions of other people did the same thing at roughly the same time. So one speculates that all these sighs of relief may well have had some form of meteorological impact.

There was a lot of relief around as the Presidential inauguration proceeded today.

In the same place as rioters broke into the Capitol 14 days ago, we saw Joe and Dr Jill Biden serenely proceed up the steps flanked by military guards.

We saw the informal, friendly chatter amongst former Presidents, Vice-Presidents and their families. – The ultimate sign of a healthy democracy and peaceful transition of power.

We saw the first African American/South Asian woman being announced as Vice-President, supported by the first second gentleman.

We saw newly promoted Police Officer Eugene Goodman, hero of 6th January, separately announced in his role as escort to Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Those were a couple of Kleenex moments for me, and many others I suspect.

But I needed a new box when Lady Gaga came on. As a song, I love “The Star Spangled Banner”. I’ve been on a “pilgrimage” to Fort McHenry in Baltimore which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the basis of it. So it was a great moment to hear Lady Gaga sing it. To sing the US National Anthem – your own anthem – in front of Presidents and Congress-people, millions watching on TV and in the cold air of January is one hell of a challenge. You risk being on blooper shows for the rest of your life – and afterwards. Lady Gaga really rose to the occasion with an outstanding, passionate and punchy performance.

We then had the first Latina to serve on the US Supreme Court, Sonia Maria Sotomayor, taking the oath of Vice President Kamala Harris. A double historic moment.

I don’t think I was alone in feeling yet another huge wave of relief as Joe Biden finally said “So help me God” at the end of his oath of office.

I found Joe Biden’s speech remarkably assured. Themes included racial equality, the earth and combatting domestic terrorism.

Unity was the over-arching theme, in a beautifully written and delivered speech.

I was particularly touched by the passage when he said that Americans should “open our souls instead of hardening our hearts” and alluded to his mother’s advice about adversaries that we should “stand in their shoes”. He made a heartfelt plea to remember that sometimes we help others and sometimes we need help ourselves.

Biden called for a moment’s silence in memory of those lost to the pandemic in the last year.

He then went on an oratorical flight.

It really was a barnstormer of a speech.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is currently taking a break from his role as one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Paul Barker 20th Jan '21 - 6:21pm

    I found the whole thing quite moving & very impressive – Americans do the whole Ritual & Symbolism thing so much better than us. Democracy ought to be slemn & Heroic at moments like that & Politicians should have to swear to defend Democracy when they take office. The nearest The UK gets is toadying to the Monarchy.

  • It was a great speech, mostly because of the emotional content. It is, however, true to say that some of its greatness came from the contrast with his predecessor. Biden came across as a man who genuinely cares, and to some extent anyone not a supreme narcissist was going to look good. He correctly, but gently, alluded to one of the problems ahead. An awful lot of people voted for Trump. Reconciliation is going to be important. But a lot of us must have been wondering: what kind of people are they, if they thought, and still do, that Trump was an even remotely credible choice as president? How do you build bridges with people like that?

  • Tahir Maher Tahir Maher 20th Jan '21 - 7:20pm

    Personally, I thought that Amanda Gorman – the Youth poet – reciting her poem ” The Hill We Climb” (she finished it on the day Capitol Hill was ransacked) was outstanding. But the whole thing was a breath of fresh air. Lady Gaga can sing ….

  • David Allen 20th Jan '21 - 8:24pm

    In the US, the Democrats have managed – if with difficulty – to unify the political “centre” and “left”. They talk about today’s isues in today’s language. They win elections.

    In Britain, the centre and left are not united. The left talk the language of century-old labourism, the centre have little meaningful to say. They lose elections.

  • John Marriott 20th Jan '21 - 8:29pm

    I watched the ceremony and both the speeches of the outgoing and incoming Presidents. Biden’s was a triumph, Trumps shambling performance at Edwards Airforce Base just made you realise how poor he was. Thank goodness he’s gone and, if McConnell and Co can do their duty, he won’t come back.

    What really fascinates me is the way they do the music at such events. Could you imagine someone like Robbie Williams doing a rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’ at the Last Night of the Proms?

  • Relief! NEVER (and I am old. I remember Nixon) NEVER have I wanted somebody to leave office as much as ex-President Trump. I live close (40 minutes away) to his Turnberry golf course. I watched the entire inauguration, just to assure myself that the USA was returning to sanity. Relief. I’d have a drink but the pub is shut. I can put up with that. Trump is not president. Relief. Slainte to you all!

  • ‘So help me god’ isn’t part of the presidential oath, it ends at ‘…defend the Constitution of the United States’.

    The extra words have been added at the end by the last few presidents, as part of the increasing religiosity of the USA.

  • Richard Underhill. 21st Jan '21 - 10:16am

    US Presidential inauguration
    VICE-Presidential inauguration.
    This is an historic moment. The Republicans had a female VP candidate, from Alaska, but she was a lightweight, compared with their Presidential candidate, a Vietnam War hero, who was described by a twice impeached President as a loser. She did provide a career step for an impersonator.
    When Senator John McCain conceded defeat in the Presidential election a crowd started to boo, so he told them that this was an historic moment, the election of the first black President,. They did what he requested,
    Others should learn from that.

  • Richard Underhill. 21st Jan '21 - 10:28am

    John F Kennedy was the first Catholic, a son of a centi-millionaire (billionaire) Ambassador to London recalled by FDR during WW2.

  • Richard Underhill. 21st Jan '21 - 10:43am

    Katy (BBC tv) mentioned JFK yesterday,
    He had made the point that he was not “the Catholic candidate” but insisted that he was
    “the candidate of the Democratic Party” and that he would not be taking orders from the Pope.
    Roe versus Wade could have come before the US Supreme Court if Donald Trump had been re-elected. It is possible that the elected President has a different opinion from the elected Vice President. She is pro-choice, as was Hillary Rodham Clinton.
    FDR wanted to reform the Supreme Court but was repulsed. He won four Presidential elections before he died and was thereby enabled to rebalance the court

  • Richard Underhill. 21st Jan '21 - 10:50am

    Donald Trump’s religiosity was a breach of his oath at inauguration.
    The US has freedom of religion. Joe Bide will tolerate Muslims and revoke his predecessor’ actions today.

  • Richard Underhill. 21st Jan '21 - 10:55am
  • On Biden being a Catholic, its worth remembering that The Ku Klux Klan were founded in the late C19 as an explicitly Sectarian as well as Racist Organisation, among their very long list of Enemies were Catholics & Jews.
    When The USA began to introduce Immigration Restrictions in 1914 part of the driving force was fear of degenerate Southern Europeans polluting the the healthy, manly stock of English, Scots Germans & Swedes. As with England at the same period you find a bizzarre fusion of Sexual, Gender, Religious & National prejudices.
    The modern Religious Right in America has tried to get over the Catholic/Protestant division so as to unite Religious Conservatives but with limited sucsess.

  • Steve Trevethan 21st Jan '21 - 4:20pm

    in which ways are inaugurations, coronations, and the like, more than a mixture of show-biz and aspirations/theory?

    As Yogi Berra may have said,
    “Theory and practice are the same in theory, but not in practice.”

    Might a better guide to expectations be a look at “track record”?

  • Paul Fisher 21st Jan '21 - 9:20pm

    The whole inauguration was a stellar event. It is an example to liberals and democrats everywhere and in particular to the UK LIBDEMS. Vision, ethos, humanity and above all clear credible leadership. Come on peeps!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan '21 - 2:44am

    Emotional, me.

    I feel like moving there, with my wife of twenty five years, an American, who has been with me here all those years.

    When we visit, I fit in immediately.

    Poor here, my finances, this govt, our country, this virus.

    I need cheering up as I cheer them there, and wow, that speech from wonderful President Biden, that blessing from inspirational Rev Beaman, that poem from beautiful Amanda Gorman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think i feel the pull there again… post covid…..

  • John Marriott 23rd Jan '21 - 11:41am

    Fine words from Amanda Gorman. But were they a stream of consciousness rather than poetry?

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