It is now President Donald John Trump. At noon today the seemingly impossible happened. The boisterous billionaire real estate mogul and TV reality celebrity took the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States of America. With the world looking on, Chief Justice John Roberts swore in the new president.
The podium was crowded with familiar faces including the former president and his wife, Vice President Joe Biden and spouse, former secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife and former President George W. Bush and his wife.
It would be interesting to know what thoughts flowed through the minds of the many celebrated guests such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There on the podium preparing to be sworn in as president was the man they both felt was an impossibility to ever reach that altitude. But there he was, bright red tie and tailored suit, ready for the impossible.
Hillary and Bill Clinton were stiff upper lipped as Donald Trump took the oath of office for a presidency she was favored to win. She kept her dignity, smiled to the crowd and sat stoically as Trump reamed the Washington establishment and promised a new era for all Americans.
After the ceremony there was no interaction with Trump and he did not mention Clinton, who won three million more popular votes, during his speech. Rather he described his vision of a new America that would work on making the country more prosperous and a more independent force in the world.
The two did cross paths later, shaking hands. Trump thanked her for coming. It was an historic moment as one brand of ideology passed the baton to an opposite brand with his own vision for America’s future.
It could not have been easy for Hillary Clinton. Some had said she might not attend. But after some discussion with close advisers in recent weeks, she knew it was the right thing to do. All Americans should respect the woman for being present for the peaceful transition of power no matter what your own thoughts may be. She did what was best for her country.
In a Twitter message Hillary said, “I’m here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country & its future.” It was straight and to the point. Kudos for a classy end to one of the roughest political campaigns and, for that matter, careers there has ever been in this country’s history.
After arriving at the Capitol, the Clintons ignored questions from hordes of reporters gathered outside the white dome about how she was feeling on the day she expected to be sworn into office. What thoughts was she thinking as she found herself in second place a second time, surrounded by the two men that denied her the golden crown?
When she was introduced at the ceremony, there were some classless boos as she was seated. Many in attendance wore red hats with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Hillary remained graceful and focused.
Moments after the Clintons arrived; former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush received hearty applause, making the contrast even more apparent. It was a moment only the American democracy could have produced.
Hillary dressed in a winter white Ralph Lauren suit, most likely symbolizing the Suffragettes moment. Ironically, it was similar to the one she wore for her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention and for the third presidential debate. The irony was glaring.
Her expression throughout the swearing-in was very “lets-get-this-over-with smile.” Clearly the anguish of the moment was apparent on her troubled face. It had to be an embarrassment as the “shoo-in” presidential candidate sat with the upper echelon of the Democratic Party.
One longtime confidante may have said it best. “Let’s face it; it’s not an easy moment for her. She expected to be there, she really did. She thought she would be the next president. And she fought so hard because she thought she was the better candidate for the country by a long shot.”
He/she continued, “It’s not the same thing at all, but she is the same woman who put her pride aside and went and served President Obama because she thought it was the right thing to do for the country.”
It had to be difficult, but this was the woman who survived her husband’s impeachment and his affair with several women throughout his public career. Whether or not those moments were enough to prepare her for the one she faced today, nobody will ever know.
Clinton wasn’t the only figure under the gun. There was no doubt Michelle Obama was strained to force a smile on camera. It was obvious she wanted to be anywhere but on the podium. Her husband seemed unfazed by the entire scene.
Meanwhile, many of Clintons supporters refused to watch the inaugural address and some even left Washington for the weekend in an effort to further distance themselves from the proceedings. But to her credit, Clinton remained for the luncheon in the Capitol after. One had to wonder where she goes from here.
She was surrounded by reporters anxious for her remarks. But those questions went unanswered. The final chapter of her public life may just have been written.