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Bye Bye Bush: Washington, America and the World Welcome Barack Obama

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Taking the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible and quoting our founding father George Washington, Barack Obama's inaugural address was a low-key call for action with a sober tone. Our new President gave us highlights from history, reminding us that we can do it again, calling this, "a new era of responsibility,"- saying, "We are ready to lead once more."- 

The temperature on this sunny morning in Washington, DC, was well below freezing and smiles stretched faces in the crowd almost to the breaking point. The brilliant, accomplished Michelle Obama, dressed in a Jackie -esque, yellow suit, entered the stage as the band played.  Michelle gave Hillary Clinton a kiss on the cheek, as a gesture of a renewed, positive spirit that has developed after a crushing primary election. 

George Walker Bush, at that moment still President of the United States, and Vice President Dick Cheney were announced on the stage, as some in the crowd booed.  In a matter of moments, the George W. Bush administration would come to an end and the Barack Obama era would begin. 

At 11:39am, anticipation was high.  At 11:42 am the President-elect Barack H. Obama was announced.  The sea of flags fluttered with millions of twists of the wrist.  People from all across the country had jammed the Mall in Washington, DC and there appeared to be no remaining space.  The massive crowd, stretched from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. 

Senator Dianne Feinstein took the podium and introduced Dr. Rich Warren, the controversial pastor of the Saddleback Church who equated homosexuality to incest, stepped to the podium and said, "Let us pray."-  He said that our commitment to freedom and justice for all is what makes us Americans.  "When we fail to treat the earth and all human beings with the respect that they deserve, forgive us."-

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, sang "My Country Tis of Thee,"- as the spirits of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King looked on.  Sasha and Malia Obama were on stage with their brightly shining young, eager faces.

Justice John Paul Stevens administered the oath of office and Joseph Biden was sworn in as Vice President of the United States.  For a brief couple of minutes, before the oath was administered to Barack Obama, Joseph Biden was officially President of the United States.

At 12:01pm George W. Bush was no longer President, despite the fact that Barack Obama had not yet been sworn-in.  The world heaved a giant, collective sigh of relief to the sounds of Yoyo Ma. 

The world will reel for a long time to come from Bush's mix of authoritarianism and militarism--waging an imperial oil war, torturing prisoners of that war, wasting the lives of young American soldiers on false pretenses in Iraq.

Bush's legacy includes allowing victims of Hurricane Katrina to die and rot in their own waste and neglecting those who survived.  We won't soon forget his rigging elections, corrupting the justice system, spying on and lying to Americans, twisting and falsifying the results of scientific research.

G.W. Bush ignored the global warming emergency for 7 years and then in his unique, Orwellian way, postured to change the historical record, as though he's been a leader in finding solutions to the challenges presented by climate change. Global warming may change or destroy life on the planet for most of its inhabitants.

Former President (ah, that feels so good) Bush has put us all at the mercy of giant corporations who pollute our air and water and destroy biodiversity, leaving us to deal with the resulting degradation, illness and disease. Those wealthy corporations can now take individual's private property for "economic" development, outsource our jobs, avoid paying Americans a living wage, benefit financially from war, and gouge us at the gas pump.

These corporations reap record-breaking profits, exclusively for the benefit of the very few. Meanwhile the little gal and guy struggle to live, breathe, work, put food and clean water on the table, pay the electric bill, get an education, and find health care. 

That's the legacy of George W. Bush and the situation that Barack Obama inherits.

As Michelle looked on, Chief Justice John Roberts stumbled as he administered the oath.  Barack Obama hesitated for a moment after the stumble, as if in recognition of the gargantuan tasks ahead.  Obama flashed a broad smile and recovered nicely to become President of the United States at 12:03pm. 

President Barack Obama's inaugural address began, "My fellow citizens, I stand here today, humbled by the task before us."-  He reminded us that every so often the oath is taken among gathering clouds.  That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. We are at war and our economy is wrecked.  Most significantly, Obama said that the way that we use energy strengthens our enemies and threatens our planet. 

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Karyn Strickler is a political scientist, grassroots organizer and writer. She is founder and president of Vote Climate U.S. PAC, working to elect candidates to get off fossil fuels and put a price on carbon. Karyn is the former host and (more...)

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