The inaugural do-over: time to relax and savor
President Barack Obama gives his Inaugural address on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, during the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, Pool)
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.)
A little before noon, Obama daughters Sasha and Malia strolled onto the inaugural platform at the Capitol like they were heading out to meet up with a few friends, chatting up their cousins on the stand, completely uncowed by the millions watching via Jumbotron and television.
Obama himself seemed more relaxed, too.
"I miss this place," the onetime senator said with a big smile as he greeted congressional leaders upon arriving at the Capitol.
The inaugural crowds — 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, 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.
And for all that was not-so-new, it was still a moment to savor. And Obama did.
As he headed back into the Capitol after the swearing-in, the president pivoted and planted himself to look back at the scene.
"I want to take a look, one more time," he said. "I'm not going to see this again."
Obama, who won't ever face re-election, felt free to ramp up the inaugural program's Hollywood quotient this time.