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inauguration blog:

Blog: The inauguration’s Obama Echo

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 | 12:16 p.m.

Posted at 12:26 p.m.

WASHINGTON - As Marine One flew former President George W. Bush over the Capitol and down the National Mall to private life, a woman waved so long.

"Bye, Bushie!" she said, recounting her farewell to a companion as they left the inaugural site.

For all the talk today about the peaceful transfer of power, it couldn't come fast enough to some.

People threw shoes at the White House on Monday. A flying boot almost hit a bystander.

The protesters were employing the strongest insult that can be hurled in Iraq society -- a shoe. (A journalist in Iraq threw not one, but both, shoes at Bush on his final visit to the country as commander-in-chief last month.)

President Barack Obama has increasingly said he doesn't want look backward into what some see as the executive branch overreach of the Bush administration, despite calls from constitutional and civil rights activists and some members of Congress to do so.

But Obama spoke seriously today of the "rule of law." Later at the luncheon with Congress after the swearing in, Vice President Joe Biden told his colleagues of the importance of "three co-equal branches of government."

Posted at 11:26 a.m.

WASHINGTON - Throughout President Barack Obama's nearly 20 minute inaugural address it was hard to ignore the mighty echo.

As his words left the podium on the Capitol steps, soaring over the super-thick protective glass, they echoed across the National Mall.

The time and distance his message traveled seemed to extend it, giving the words a second life by the time they reached the cheap seats.

It sounded something like this:

"On this day we gather because we have chosen hope over fear," Obama said.

Moments later, as the president had moved on to the next line, the roaring thunder comes from the crowd, a million mittens clapping.

It was jarring in a way, stunning sometimes to those up close -- similar to the way his campaign for office rippled unexpectedly across the country, depositing him at this day.

Posted at 8:40 a.m.

WASHINGTON - "Obama! Obama!"

Almost all the dignataries were seated - the former presidents and their wives, the president- and vice president-elect's children.

But all the crowd wants is the next preisdent they have come to see. The Marine Corps band pauses and the masses on the Mall see the opening.

"Obama! Obama!" they chant.

Posted at 8:15 a.m.

WASHINGTON - Even members of Congress get a little awestruck at times like these.

As members of the House and Senate filed onto the West steps, many of them paused to soak up the many, many people down below -- and snap photos.

Sen. John Ensign looked out from his prime spot near the railing to take in the scene.

Somehow the crowd on the Mall has grown over the past hour, more dense than seems possible. Those who have been here for inaugurals past say it doesn't compare.

Celebrities are here, too, of course -- Denzel Washington and Smokey Robinson, among others.

A couple from Las Vegas, Carmel and Dennis Cameron, are settled in about 20 rows from where the new president will speak. They drove two-and-a -half days straight to get here.

"Have you noticed in Washington," Carmel Cameron said, "everyone's just smiling."

Well, not everyone. Plenty of Republicans are sitting this day out -- even as others from their party join the celebration.

The crowd just gave out another one of those thunderous roars. Thousands of flags wave. The justices of the Supreme Court are taking their seats.

It's almost time to begin.

Posted at 7:12 a.m.

WASHINGTON - Other countries marvel at this orderly transfer of power here in the United States, from one president to the next, dozens of times, for the past 220 years.

This morning the transfer would be getting underway over coffee.

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama were scheduled to have a morning meeting at the White House.

Congressional leadership would be there, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

What did Reid have to say to the outgoing president, the man with whom he has sparred for the past several years? Unlike their meeting two years ago, about the Iraq war, would today's end in a handshake?

And what did the outgoing and incoming presidents share -- a message for the ages?

Posted at 7:07 a.m.

WASHINGTON - The air is cold but the sun is shining now over the National Mall, already full as far as can be seen.

What will greet Barack Obama from these west steps of the Capitol in just a short while are the huddled rows of people, with their warm hats creating a wave of color all the way to the Washington Monument.

Even in the morning brightness you can still see the countless flashes of cameras documenting history.

Waves of cheers roar up from the Mall every so often. Even over the patriotic music playing on the Capitol steps, the voices Obama pledges to carry with him to work each day can be heard.

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