Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Two weeks after an armed mob stormed the Capitol, the new president painted a picture of hope and collective effort in his inaugural address. His message sharply contrasted with former president Donald Trump’s dystopian “American carnage” speech from four years ago. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” Biden said in his address. “And unity is the path forward.”
DC Bureau Chief David Corn and Senior Reporter Tim Murphy joined Jamilah King for live coverage and analysis of the event. David Corn was at the Capitol, where he witnessed a very different inauguration from ones he had attended in the past. There were no large crowds, but ubiquitous face masks, heavy security, members of Congress wearing body armor, even in the midst of the traditional pomp and circumstance. The US Marine Band played their trumpets and drums, the Capitol was bedecked in huge American flags, and the Clintons, the Bushes, and the Obamas were all in attendance. President Biden said he spoke with former president Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend. The inauguration is usually a passing of the torch, but since Trump boycotted the inauguration in a final venal, norm- busting gesture, the event had the quality of the nation turning the page and ushering in a new era. "We were literally standing where blood had been spilled, where violence had occurred just two weeks ago," says Corn on the show. "Yet democracy prevailed, she persisted as Elizabeth Warren might say, and we were here carrying out this grand tradition which has gone on for over 200 years."
Jamilah asked Tim Murphy about the historical context, including Trump’s early escape from the city and non-attendance. “He’s a deeply petty person,” says Murphy, but still there is some precedent. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president has to attend the inauguration, and historically that hasn’t always been the case. John Adams didn’t attend Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration. And that’s the election that brought us the peaceful transfer of power that Trump brought to an end by inciting a riot on the Capitol.”