The Transition: The ‘against all odds’ inauguration

Political Theater, Episode 184

Lady Gaga performs the national anthem Wednesday before the swearing-in of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Lady Gaga performs the national anthem Wednesday before the swearing-in of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Jason Dick
Posted January 20, 2021 at 6:34pm

The transition is officially over.

The presidency of Donald Trump is done. The presidency of Joe Biden has started. The 2020 election cycle, which began well before the year 2020 and lasted well after the New Year, has challenged Americans like few before it.

A global pandemic. A reckoning over racial justice. An armed attack on the Capitol attempting to derail the democratic process just two weeks ago. Those and much more shook the foundations on which the United States has stood.

Inaugurations are always designated national security events, but the 59th inaugural ceremonies took it to another level, with approximately 25,000 National Guard troops and 15,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers on hand to keep the peace and prevent the kind of violent disruption we saw on Jan. 6. The COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans required health precautions curtailing attendance and movement.

And yet, the show went on. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem. Sens. Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar quipped cute about not planning for snow and J. Lo being the warmup act for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. It’s been more than 30 years since Garth Brooks released “Friends in Low Places,” but he did finally show up in boots. And he led the inaugural crowd in singing “Amazing Grace.”

CQ Roll Call staff writer Jim Saksa was among our crew up at the Capitol today and talked to several folks — staffers, members, guests and ushers.

One programming note: With Biden’s inauguration, we’ll be retiring these special editions of the Political Theater podcast and returning to our regular (or irregular, depending on your point of view) episodes. We hope our look at the presidential and congressional transition during this momentous time has been good listening. Of course, we’ll keep discussing the new administration, the new Congress, the courts — all that good stuff. But as we put the Trump administration in the rear-view mirror, we’ll say goodbye to The Transition, for now.

Show notes: