8:36 AM. Of course, it’s an hour later in DC. My wife calls. She’s in the Mall, in front of the Smithsonian. It’s too crowded to move, but she’s found a sheet of cardboard and she’s sitting on it. “We’re watching the squirrels flying from one tree to the next,” Betsy says. And watching a replay of Sunday’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial on a giant TV screen. It’s really cold.

10:33 AM. Open e-mail at work. There’s a message from the United Republican Fund of Illinois. “Let’s Rebuild Our Party Together and Make it a Party of Principle,” it says. “As the millions of Americans who voted for ‘change’ last November celebrate today’s inauguration of Barack Obama – we must use this event as a launching pad for the restoration of our Republican Party in Illinois. After all, Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate as a result of the infighting and backbiting that has plagued our party for far too long .And today’s event comes on the heels of the arrest of our governor – a corrupt, unpopular politician who was re-elected in a landslide over the feckless, uninspiring candidate fielded by the Republicans in 2006.” That would be Judy Baar Topinka.

There’s an open letter for Republicans to sign. “We call on you, the Illinois Republican Leadership Team, to hold your fellow Republicans accountable and demand they support our party’s mainstream principles of limited government, individual freedom and responsibility, free and open markets, and traditional American values.”

10:51 AM.  There’s a screen set up here at the Reader and we’re watching the BBC feed of the inauguration. Why not? That’s Quality TV. The Reverend Rick Warren has just delivered the invocation, but I wasn’t taking notes, and now, 5 minutes later, I don’t remember if he asked God to give Barack Obama “the generosity to lead us with compassion” or “the compassion to lead us with generosity.” 

11:43 AM. Obama’s inaugural address was graceful and inspiring. I’d like to have heard it when I was young. The benediction by the Reverend James Lowery became exciting at its close when he asked for a world where the brown can stick around, the white does right, the red can get ahead, and the yellow can be mellow. Would he go on? But nothing rhymes with orange, so in this way as in others, it was a bad day for jaundiced cynics. 

11:52 AM. My Reader colleague Tony Adler receives e-mail from Graywolf Press in Minneapolis. It announces, “ELIZABETH ALEXANDER’S POEM ‘PRAISE SONG FOR THE DAY’ INSPIRES THE COUNTRY AT THE INAUGURATION OF BARACK OBAMA,” and goes on to say that Graywolf “will release a commemorative chapbook edition of the poem on February 6, 2009, with an initial print run of 100,000 copies.”

12:53. Report from the Mall: “We got to the mall at maybe 8 AM.  The mood was cooperative, friendly, even helpful.  I’ve never seen so many black people in one place in this country.  I’d say 60-40. Everyone booed when Bush came on the monitor.  they booed a lot, and loud. It was a really good time hanging out with strangers. It was pretty cold.”

3:32 PM. About this time of day 40 years ago, a young, black copy clerk at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch took a look around the newsroom, where a lot of grinding of teeth was going on, and remarked, “Well, Nixon’s been president for two hours now and I’ve still got my job.” Is Guantanamo closed yet?

5:17 PM. Pictorial evidence arrives — from Gary, Indiana, no less — of a resurgence of entrepreneurship in America. This development is doubly welcome because it appears to be exactly what I called for in December. when I proposed a national chain of keepsake outlet stores that would be known as Trader O’s. Nothing wrong with the given name, the plain, sturdy, The Obama Shop, though if the idea catches on and spreads to Chicago’s better neighborhoods, Ye O’ Bama Shoppe might lure more clientele.