CBS’s Smith: Obama Inauguration A ‘Sacred Event’

At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith reflected on Barack Obama’s inauguration: "Politics, and patriotism, and the presidency. It is the place where the secular and the religious merge. And one of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration...So it was that as many as 2 million pilgrims made their way to Washington and the Mall to witness this most sacred event."

Smith continued to use religious language throughout the report: "As the oath was recited, as the speech was delivered...emotions were laid bear. Tears were shed...An inauguration is a renewal of faith...A confirmation that the republic, and our belief in it, endures."

Smith later concluded the segment by hoping: "And the agenda and the problems, you just hope that some of the momentum, some of the inspiration of yesterday, can continue to filter through the culture." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez agreed: "I thought the same thing. I was standing there with everyone, thinking back to the last time that I was on the Mall watching an inauguration. It was 1989 and I was a college student here in Washington. And there I was yesterday, older, not quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and yet, more optimistic, because you couldn't help but get caught up in that euphoria and that optimism and that hope. And waking up this morning, you just hope, you know, you have your fingers crossed that it continues."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

8:47AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: Up next, emotions laid bear on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

8:49AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Well, we've both been reflecting this morning on how fortunate, I think, we both felt to be able to be amongst the crowd on the Mall yesterday to experience what happened.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I was in a mob of people, standing room only, about seven blocks from the Capitol, on the Mall, where you could hear a pin drop during the speech and swearing in. But as soon as it finished, euphoria.

SMITH: I made one of the best decisions ever. I decided I wanted to see this event unfold and I spent the morning on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Politics, and patriotism, and the presidency. It is the place where the secular and the religious merge. And one of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration.

ARETHA FRANKLIN [SINGING]: My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty.

SMITH: So it was that as many as 2 million pilgrims made their way to Washington and the Mall to witness this most sacred event.

FRANKLIN: Land where our fathers died.

SMITH: As the oath was recited, as the speech was delivered-

BARACK OBAMA: The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit.

SMITH: -emotions were laid bear. Tears were shed.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No matter how optimistic I have ever been as a human being, I never thought this moment would come and that I met this these wonderful people, total strangers, and we can all share it together.

SMITH: An inauguration is a renewal of faith.

OBAMA: We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.

SMITH: A confirmation that the republic, and our belief in it, endures. These pictures were taken by Reggie Huff, a CBS camera man for 30 years, an old friend and a son of the south.

REGGIE HUFF: I used to see a cross burn up on the hill. And actually seeing hatred then and seeing love now, it's -- it's wonderful.

BARACK OBAMA: May God bless you. May God bless the United States of America.

SMITH: So as all of that emotion came pouring out yesterday, it is kind of interesting to sort of feel that all over again.

RODRIGUEZ: Wow, I know, I know.

SMITH: We have this bright, clear, sun drenched day and so kind of the cold reality of Wednesday morning is here.

RODRIGUEZ: Right, exactly right.

SMITH: And the agenda and the problems, you just hope that some of the momentum, some of the inspiration of yesterday, can continue to filter through the culture.

RODRIGUEZ: I thought the same thing. I was standing there with everyone, thinking back to the last time that I was on the Mall watching an inauguration. It was 1989 and I was a college student here in Washington. And there I was yesterday, older, not quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and yet, more optimistic, because you couldn't help but get caught up in that euphoria and that optimism and that hope. And waking up this morning, you just hope, you know, you have your fingers crossed that it continues.

JULIE CHEN: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, does anybody -- it was great hearing from Reggie Huff in your piece. Does anyone know that tear in his eye when he was shooting, was that from the emotion or the cold of D.C. yesterday? Does anyone know? Or both?

RODRIGUEZ: 100% emotion I would guess.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC