The inaugural do-over: chomping gum, savoring view
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama share a dance during the Commander-In-Chief Inaugural ball at the Washington Convention Center during the 57th Presidential Inauguration Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Let's hear it for the do-over.
Inaugurations are always moments of great ceremony and pageantry. But, hey, everybody can rel-a-a-a-ax a little the second time around.
After the electric moment of President Barack Obama's first swearing-in, the second inaugural was just so much more ... comfortable.
(Really, Monday was a do-over of the do-over. The actual swearing-in took place a day earlier in a private ceremony at the White House.)
Yup, that was the president chomping on gum — Nicorette, perhaps — as he watched the inaugural parade, while his wife and daughters rocked out in their seats and the girls snapped photos on their phones.
And, yup, there were Sasha and Malia casually chatting with their cousins on the inaugural platform earlier in the day, completely uncowed by the millions watching their every move via Jumbotron and television.
Obama seemed so at eeeeeease.
"You all dress up pretty nice," he quipped at the end of a long day, when he made a white-tie appearance at the inaugural balls. Then Obama took a turn on the dance floor with wife Michelle, who wore a gown by Jason Wu for the second inaugural in a row.
The inaugural crowds — big, but down considerably from four years ago — knew there was no repeating the raw emotion of 2009, and most people didn't demand it.
"I just feel so proud," said Sharon Davis, of Suitland, Md., who attended both.
But the different vibe was palpable.
"Before, it was just so exciting — you could be walking for miles and miles and it didn't even feel like an effort," said Katasha Smart of Randallstown, Md.
The sentiment was the same from afar for many.
"We've been there, done that in terms of electing the first African-American president," said Beniam Fantu, 34, speaking from Dallas.
With the smaller crowds came smaller headaches.
Sure, there were still snags at security checkpoints and Metro stops and the like. There was a smattering of protesters, including an anti-abortion protester up in a tree, and some glitches with the sound system.
But there was no repeat of 2009's Purple Tunnel of Doom, the underpass where throngs of purple ticket-holders famously were stranded for hours.
Even the weather cooperated — 40 degrees at high noon, up from 28 four years ago.