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'The Rachel Maddow Show'for Tuesday, January 20

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guest: Ana Marie Cox, Terrence Roberts

High: Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

Spec: Government; Politics; Barack Obama

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Thank you at home and at your inaugural-watching parties around America and around the globe right now, for sticking with us for the next hour, as MSNBC‘s coverage of Barack Obama‘s inauguration keeps rolling.

We expect to see the president and first lady at least one inaugural ball within the hour.  Our friend, Ana Marie Cox will help us review the day‘s highs and a few lows.  Chuck Todd will be here to break down the political view of the day.  The early signals about the Obama agenda and how will it‘s going to go over in Washington.

And, we will be honored to welcome a member of the Little Rock Nine, who more than four years ago faced down Arkansas National Guard to integrate Little Rock High School in Arkansas.  He was here today and will tell us about his day in Washington.  That‘s all coming up.

But first, we are waiting for the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, to speak at his second official inaugural ball of the night.  Obama‘s Home State Ball held in Hall E of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, it honors Illinois and Hawaii.  Tickets are for residents of those states.

Obama is, interestingly enough, not the only attraction featured at the party tonight.  Jack Johnson will be performing.  Common will be performing.

The president is expected to spend about 20 minutes celebrating with those folks before moving onto the other eight remaining inaugural balls, including the one honoring his vice president‘s home state, and the Commander-in-Chief Ball, and Youth Ball plus five regional balls.

We are joined right now by NBC‘s Natalie Morales at the Home State Ball in the Washington Convention Center.

Natalie, thank you so much for joining us.  What‘s the atmosphere like where you are tonight?

NATALIE MORALES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  My pleasure.

Well, you can see behind me—the cameras are out, the honor guard is back there on the stage.  They are ready and there is a lot of anticipation here on the room.  A lot of people who were out along the parade route or along the Mall earlier today, had made it here tonight because they didn‘t want to miss the chance to see somebody that they know and love very well.  Because, as you said, they‘re invited guest from Illinois, his home state, or Hawaii.

So, a lot of them had some sort of personal connection for a lot of ways to Barack Obama or worked with them in some capacity.  They feel a lot of pride in seeing his career.

Now, as you mentioned, this, of course, will be his second ball that he‘ll be attending.  We hear the band, the Don Cagen, the orchestra, kicking up there, a local Chicago band as well.  Really an incredible group.  Everybody has their eyes right now trained on that stage.

Now, we do have some news, as you may have seen earlier tonight from the Neighborhood Ball.  I think we have the answer now to the million dollar question on who Michelle Obama‘s designer of choice would be for tonight.  We now have learned a little bit more about the young man, a young designer.  He‘s Taiwanese born.  His name is Jason Wu.

Apparently, he launched a label about three years ago.  Michelle Obama has worn one of his designs in the past.  She wore it for a Barbara Walters interview.

But interesting, there was an article quoted recently, where he was quoted recently in the “Wall Street Journal,” when asked if he had even thought about the possibility of Michelle Obama, the first lady, wearing one of his gowns for the inauguration and he said, “Oh, that‘s a long shot.”  He said, “I can‘t even think that far ahead.  I‘m just privileged to have been able to dress her the one time.”

So now, as you know, Jason Wu is a name, a household name a lot of people will be hearing a lot more about this young designer.

As you mentioned, Rachel, this is going to be a very long night for the president and first lady.  It started, of course, as a very long day, which was full—I‘m sure—of a lot of emotional moments for the president and first lady.  But this is the second of ten balls.  So, they are expected to go until about 2:25, as we were last told, the last ball that they are scheduled to attend.

So, they are going to be doing a lot of dancing.  That‘s for sure. 

I‘m sure that the feet and toes are going to be hurting a little bit.

And we also do expect him to speak here as well momentarily when he does arrive.  But again, the honor guard is here.  They are ready and set to go.  We‘ve got a huge crowd.  I mean, this is a convention hall.

The Neighborhood Ball, by the way, just right down the hallway.  So, he is expected here any minute.  But I would—just looking around the room, hundreds maybe even a thousand or so people here tonight, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Natalie, I know that so much of this is about the pageantry and about, literally, the dress and them dancing together, and then being seen in this festive environment.  But the president is expected to say a few words, as you said.

MORALES:  I think, Rachel .

MADDOW:  Will they be substantive?

MORALES:  You know, actually, we are getting an announcement right now.  He‘s going now in this room, so, I‘m going to turn to the stage (ph).

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(MUSIC)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES:  Hello, everybody!  Hello!  Aloha!

CROWD:  Aloha!

(CHEERS)

OBAMA:  What‘s going on?  I—this is a special ball because it represents our roots.  Hawaii, Illinois—together you have given us so much, so many of you got involved not just in my campaign, but got involved in our lives many, many years ago.  You‘re not new friends.  You‘re old friends.  And for that, we are grateful to you.

This has been a magnificent last few days.  But I hope that all of you remember what this campaign and hopefully what this presidency will be about.  It‘s not just a matter of me or my administration making this country better, but it‘s a matter of all of you pitching in, working together, trying to get past our differences, in order to create the kind of world that we want to pass onto our children and our grandchildren.

Each of you—each of you have the power to make change.  And if you remember our motto, yes, we can.

(CHEERS)

OBAMA:  Yes, we did in this election, and yes, we shall in creating the kind of country that our children, that our grandchildren, our great grandchildren can all thrive in.

So, thank you, everybody.  We love you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(MUSIC)

MADDOW:  The president and first lady, dancing at their Home State Ball, the residents of Illinois and Hawaii.

NBC‘s Natalie Morales is on site.

Natalie, what can you tell us about what it‘s like in that room right now?

MORALES:  I can only say, did you just see that move?  I mean, a little spin there by the president and everybody here, they are charged, as you heard, Rachel.  I mean, this is a personal crowd and the president very much feels that connection in the room there.  These are people who have saw—they saw the president and first lady come from, you know, being a local politician in their state of Illinois, being a hometown, growing up in Hawaii.

They saw him rise to this incredible occasion to become the president of the United States and the first lady.  These are people who believed in him from the very beginning as he said.  He said, “Many of you—for many of you this is very personal.  You‘re old friends.”  He said, “I love you.”

But once again, he charged them here.  He said as he did earlier today in his inaugural speech that “this is not a matter of me.  This is a matter of all of you to take charge here, to turn this country around and to make change happen.”

But, again, the crowd here just loving this moment and savoring every minute of it.

MADDOW:  NBC‘s Natalie Morales at the Obama Home State Ball.  Natalie, thank you so much.  Have a great, great time.

MORALES:  I am.

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Ana Marie Cox, who is here on set with us.

Ana Marie, not to do too much parsing of parties and dancing, but what is this image, how does it resonate?  What does it mean?

ANA MARIE COX, THE DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I was struck when they did something that I remember from high school, which is the two arms around the neck and two arms the waist and sort of swaying side to side.  And I think that‘s a sign that it‘s a very happy marriage.  They are literally behaving—they are literally behaving like teenagers in love, so—in a good way.  Not teenagers with nuclear weapons in love or guilt.

(LAUGHTER)

COX:  But I think that, you know, you asked if there‘s going to be substantive in what he has to see at the balls.  I think that—I think there‘s substance but it‘s a lot of themes that we heard before.  You know, I think that he clearly does have a connection to the people in Hawaii and Illinois.

And my favorite thing about it is that how excited are people from the Illinois to make friends with people in Hawaii?

(LAUGHTER)

COX:  Especially some time in January?  I think that that‘s—I think they are very—I think there‘s a lot of friendly, you know, some phone numbers being exchanged or at least hopefully exchanged.

MADDOW:  Or time shares being arranged.

COX:  Yes, if you want to go to Illinois in January, you have—there are plenty of time to devout (ph).  I am curious if Blagojevich is there.  Do you see him?

MADDOW:  Well, Governor Blagojevich has said that although he had two tickets, it‘s a bit of injustice among elected officials, at least many of them see it this way, that senators get 300-something tickets and members of the House get hundreds of tickets to give away.  Governors get two.

And I think that presumes because most of them are married, and that‘s the only reason they get those two.  Governor Blagojevich has said he wasn‘t going to use his two.  But he has a way of surprising people to draw attention of exalting himself.

COX:  Senator Burris gave him his tickets because I understand that‘s well, there‘s no pay-for-play.

MADDOW:  No paper pay-for-play there.

COX:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  I know this is—this is not the most momentous news of the day, but our new president is a good dancer.

COX:  He‘s more enthusiastic about it than Bush, definitely.

MADDOW:  Yes.

COX:  And more enthusiastic about it than, I think, almost any president we‘ve had in the modern era.  Although they are dancing rather informally, we are not seeing, you know, a foxtrot or a waltz.

MADDOW:  You can tell when somebody‘s dancing on a chair if they are good dancer.  He‘s a good dancer.  I think this has international implications.

COX:  He does—he does have a sense of rhythm.  I‘m afraid of where we‘re going to go with that.

(LAUGHTER)

COX:  But that‘s true.

MADDOW:  Ana Marie Cox, we will see you later on this hour.  Thank you for joining us.  It‘s nice to see you.

COX:  Good to see you, too.

MADDOW:  When we come back, a look back at this historic day.  MSNBC‘s coverage of President Obama‘s inauguration continues right after this.  Don‘t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OBAMA:  On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear peace, unity of person over conflict and discord.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  A big picture context here.  Today, an African-American man was inaugurated president of the United States.

Only 51 years ago, President Eisenhower had to call out the 101st Airborne to protect nine kids, nine African-American kids in Arkansas, who just wanted to go to high school there.  One of those nine students, Doctor Terrence Roberts, was here today in Washington, D.C. and will join us on this set in just a few minutes.

But first, for about 11 weeks now, we have known that today was coming, that after all of the campaign, the speech-making, the voting, the transitioning, that all of it would culminate on a solemn oath given upon Bible at noon-ish today, on Tuesday, January 20th here in Washington.  That much we knew.  That much we have known.

But no matter how much we anticipated it, there was really no preparing for what happened on this Mall in Washington, D.C. earlier this day.  An absolutely enormous crowd, estimated at 1.8 million people, tiny American flags in hand, around in droves, even before the sun came up this morning.  Some have stayed all night, braving the freezing temperatures.  They sang songs and danced and cheered and shivered and ultimately stood silent to bear witness to history.

Amid all of the other truly remarkable moments that occurred today from Vice President Cheney‘s arrival in a wheelchair, to Senator Ted Kennedy‘s midday health scare—thank goodness, it now seems he‘s OK—to President Bush‘s finally helicopter-borne departure from Washington, flying low and dramatically over the National Mall.  The memories and images forged today are still resonating.

The themes conveyed in Obama‘s inaugural speech were so much of a reintroduction of America to the world as an introduction of a new president to America.  The new president is telling people watching him around the globe that America is ready, in his words, “to lead once more.”  Addressing the Muslim world in a spirit, in his words, “of mutual interest and mutual respect,” telling again in his words, “those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror, that our spirit is stronger, it cannot be broken, you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

President Obama delivered his inaugural address after officially being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.  That is an official duty that is dictated to the letter by our Constitution.  And it was that duty that provided, weirdly, one of the few foibles of the day.  A totally unexpected moment occurred as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts fumbled part of the 35-word presidential oath of office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. CHIEF JUSTICE:  I, Barack Hussein Obama .

OBAMA:  I, Barack Hussein Obama .

ROBERTS:  . do solemnly swear .

OBAMA:  I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear .

ROBERTS:  . that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully .

OBAMA:  . that I will execute .

ROBERTS:  . the—faithfully, the office of the president of the United States .

OBAMA:  . the office of the president of the United States faithfully

.

ROBERTS:  .. and will to the best of my ability .

OBAMA:  . and will to the best of my ability .

ROBERTS:  . preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

OBAMA:  . preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS:  So help you God?

OBAMA:  So help me God.

ROBERTS:  Congratulations, Mr. President.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  You know, this isn‘t even remotely equivalent but when I had my first communion and the priest said “Body of Christ,” I completely froze and blanked on the fact you‘re supposed to say “Amen” and I instead just looked at the priest and said, “Thank you.”

Today‘s oath of office glib was a way bigger deal than that, but it really made me sympathize with the chief justice here.  Chief Justice Roberts reportedly apologized to the new president today after the fact.

But with that rocky moment behind him, the new president delivered his inaugural address to the millions assembled on the Mall in front of him, the millions more watching across the country, and to, presumably, billions around the world.  In a way, he echoed FDR‘s call for action and action now.  Obama earned his biggest applause lines today by saying that despite our challenges, in effect, yes, we can; we can meet and beat anything thrown at us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  That we are in the midst of crisis is now well-understood. 

Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.  Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Today, I say to you, that the challenges we face are real.  They are serious and they are many.  They will not be met easily or in a short span of time, but know this, America, they will be met.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  They will be met.  Yes, we can—in other words.

Addressing our collective national security, Obama wrote the political epitaphs of the outgoing Bush administration.  With the 43rd president sitting just feet away from him, the 44th president assured Americans and those watching around the world that America will once again return to the ideals set forth by our founders.  In other words, take that, torture regime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.  Our founding fathers—our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.  Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.

And so, to all of the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  “We are ready to lead once more, the false choice between safety and our ideals.”  That may be the most remembered line of today‘s speech.

When it came to defense, President Obama spoke forcefully.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We will not apologize for our way of life.  Nor will we waver in its defense.  And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger, and cannot be broken, you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  If that sounds familiar, you may remember that “We will defeat you” pledge from President-elect Obama‘s speech in Grant Park in Chicago, the night he won the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  And a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

OBAMA:  To those—to those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you.  To those who seek peace and security, we support you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  After the radical Bush Doctrine of preventive war, the doctrine the now former president defended even today at a speech in Midland, Texas, the world and our citizens and especially, military families wait to find out how this new president will employ the immense powers of commander-in-chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interests and mutual respect.  To those leaders around the globe who seek to sell conflict or blame their societies‘ ills on the West, know your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.  To those .

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

OBAMA:  To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  President Obama wrapped up his inaugural address today with a call for a new era of responsibility in America.  He quoted George Washington.  He argued that the ideals that make the American experiment unique, the ideals that have solved this country‘s greatest challenges in the past are still really good ideals and we need to employ them now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Our challenges may be new.  The instruments with which we meet them may be new.  But those values upon which are success depends—honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism—these things are old.  These things are true.  They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.  What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Do you mind if I do something here?  I just want you to check out this next clip.  This may have been my single favorite obscure moment of the day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  “Hard work and honesty, courage and fair place, loyalty and patriotism.  These things are old.  These things are true.  That is what is demanded is a return to these truths.”  I think—I mean, I was very, very impressed, Chris.  I thought it was an outstanding speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I love oratory.  I love American political speeches.  But if there is one thing that I like more than listening to the great political orators of our time, and one of them is certainly Barack Obama, one thing I like more might be listening to Pat Buchanan quoting Barack Obama at length, approvingly, and passionately.  What a day, huh?  What a country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed—why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  In his inaugural address today, that was the most direct of three references our first African-American president made to the glass ceiling that he has just broken. 

For 10 weeks, the world has known this historic moment was coming but all the anticipation did not make it seem like any less of a big deal when it finally got here.  After the president finished his inaugural address, poet Elizabeth Alexander sort of hit the nail on the head pretty bluntly today.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER, POET:  Say it plain, that many have died for this day.  Seeing the names of the dead who have brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  After the poem by Elizabeth Alexander, the Rev. Joseph Lowery brought the proverbial house down with the benediction that started with the first words of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Black America‘s unofficial national anthem that ended with this joyful rhyme and a huge amen from the crowd and a smile on the face of literally every single person I could see who could hear his words.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JOSEPH LOWERY, AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT LEADER:  Lord, in memory of all of their saints whom from their labor rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for the day when black will not asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white would embrace what is right.  That all of those who do justice and love mercy, say amen.  

CROWD:  Amen.  

LOWERY:  Say amen.  

CROWD:  Amen.

LOWERY:  And amen.  

CROWD:  Amen. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Rev. Joseph Lowery with today‘s benediction.  Today‘s huge crowd included many heroes of our American civil rights movement, including Muhammad Ali, including all of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen and including five members of the Little Rock Nine. 

The Little Rock Nine were the nine African-American students whose enrollment at Little Rock Central High School in 1957 was initially and infamously blocked by the Gov. Orville Faubus and the Arkansas National Guard.  Three weeks after the Gov. Faubus used state troops to block the black students from entering Little Rock High, President Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and ordered units from the 101st Airborne Division to protect those nine brave young boys and girls, young men and women, from the segregationist central high. 

Joining us now is Dr. Terrence Roberts.  He was one of those nine who integrated the Little Rock Central High School over 51 years ago.  Dr.  Roberts, thank you so much for coming on show tonight.  

TERRENCE ROBERTS, ONE OF THE LITTLE ROCK NINE:  Oh, thank you very much for having me.  

MADDOW:  You broke a barrier of racism in a way that caused you personally and your fellow black students and your family a lot of pain.  The racial barrier that fell today was a moment of national joy.  And I have to ask what that contrast is like for you.  

ROBERTS:  Well, it was an amazing feeling of elation knowing that what we did over 50 years ago contributed to this happenstance today, Barack Obama being elected as our president.  And it‘s obvious that what we did wasn‘t the whole story, but we did play a fairly significant role in weakening the walls that are continuing to crumble.  And I‘m hoping that it won‘t be long before the entire wall is demolished.  

MADDOW:  What will that look like? 

ROBERTS:  Well, in my dreams, I see it to as a time when we relate to each other as peers across all lines of demarcation, that people simply walk up to each other and say, “Hi, my name is ...” and the conversation starts. 

And I believe it‘s through dialogue and development of relationship that we build a community.  And I see that.  

MADDOW:  When you entered Little Rock Central High School, you were 15 years old.  

ROBERTS:  Fifteen years old, right.  

MADDOW:  Did you realize the significance of what you were doing?  Did you have any forethought that 50 years later a woman who read about you in history books would be asking you about your historic contributions to what has happened today? 

ROBERTS:  Not at all.  Not at all.  In fact, we were simply thinking about going to school.  We were all good students, not because we were smarter than anybody else because that was the demand made on us by the teacher in our all-black schools. 

One of the very neat things about going to a segregated school, believe it or not, was a focus on education.  We were expected to excel in school, so we responded.  

MADDOW:  You and other members of Little Rock Nine were here at the inauguration today.  I know you stayed in touch to a certain extent.  You have a foundation.  You‘re all members of the board.  Have you talked together about what it means for America to have a black president? 

ROBERTS:  not in a formal way.  But informally, in our conversation, surely, we have looked at that.  We have talked about it.  We cried and, you know, laughed and thought about, “Wow, this is really happening.”  You know, it is sort of like a dream come true for us. 

MADDOW:  You have been a pioneer.  You were a pioneer as a 15-year-old at felling racial barriers.  As a pioneer, what words of advice would you give President Obama? 

ROBERTS:  Well, I think he‘s going to have to learn how to navigate the political terrain of the America.  It‘s a very difficult place to be.  Many presidents have stumbled because they haven‘t understood the forces. 

And I think those forces are so entrenched that it takes a very astute person to find a way to get through them.  I think he can.  I‘m very convinced that he is perhaps one of the more able candidates for this job.  

MADDOW:  Dr. Terrence Roberts, one of the nine students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1951.  It‘s a real honor to meet you, Sir.  Thank you for coming on.

ROBERTS:  Thank you very much, Rachel.  

MADDOW: Coming up, the Obama agenda.  What does he get to first? 

What‘s going to be hard for him or what‘s going to be easy? 

We will be joined by NBC‘s chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, reporting from the Obama White House, coming up next.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  We are waiting for our new president, Barack Obama, to speak at the Commander-In-Chief‘s Ball at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.  This was started in 2005 by Former President George W.  Bush.  The Commander-In-Chief‘s Ball honors our country‘s active duty and reserve military. 

Tonight‘s guests include Purple Heart recipients, families of fallen heroes and spouses of deployed military.  All were invited.  All tickets were free.  Tickets were free for this event but you needed an invitation.  The ball is being broadcast live to service members overseas. 

Apart from the president of the United States, this event invitees can expect entertainment from the headlining act - Jon Bon Jovi!  Sorry. 

Ana Marie Cox is back with us here in the studio.  Ana Marie of Air America radio, I‘m very proud to say, and “The Daily Beast.”  Thanks for sticking with us.  

ANA MARIE COX, “THE DAILY BEAST”:  I would rather not be anywhere else.  

MADDOW:  Well, have you ever been to an inaugural ball? 

COX:  I actually have been to an inaugural ball.  And one of the wags in agreement was saying if you had been to one, you have been to one too many or enough.  

MADDOW:  Well, is that because they are, without exception, not fun? 

COX:  They are crowded and hot and all the other things that an important Washington party might be.  But I have to say, this particular inauguration, I would be honored to be at one of the official inaugural balls.  And I think that‘s probably the vibe with what‘s going on there.  

MADDOW:  The footage we have seen, I have to say, it looks fun.  I went to - I‘m not very much of a party person, but I went to a few parties while I was here.  And the bigger they are, the worse I feel.  But even these ones, which looked giant -perhaps because I‘m just looking at them through a monitor - sort of look like I would like to be there.  

COX:  You know, I think that they - again, I think that the spirit of the day is probably carrying through to these places.  And these people feel really honored to be part of history.  And I also really, with all of them, I would like to be at this one, the Commander-In-Chief‘s Ball.  

MADDOW:  Because it‘s at the National Building Museum? 

COX:  The National Building Museum is one of the moist gorgeous buildings in Washington, and I think it‘s probably very intentional that they are having what is sort of considered one of the most, you know, heartfelt events of the evening at this gorgeous place. 

MADDOW:  I know from my involvement with veterans‘ groups that members of the military are very much anticipating this change in the administration.  We are awaiting the president and first lady‘s arrival.  If past is prologue, we will hear remarks from the president and we will hear remarks from the president in addition to hopefully seeing them dance. 

Joining us now from - we hope to be joined by Ann Curry at the Commander-In-Chief Ball at some point, but we do not yet have her at this point. 

Ana Marie, you lived in Washington, D.C. for a long time.  Do you have any observations about what the George W. Bush presidency has done for the social life in this town? 

COX:  It almost killed it.  And as you know, he didn‘t like to go out

himself.  He was an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of guy.  And also,

you know, the town, while run by conservatives, is a fundamentally kind of

we did go 92 percent for Obama in the election. 

So it‘s no wonder that he didn‘t feel very welcome here.  And already, I think if you look at what the Obamas have been doing, get ready to enter the White House - now they have entered the White House, they have gone to a few events, usually kind of big ones. 

They dropped by a party for Dick Durbin.  And then, also, they had a couple of sort of date nights.  And I think that we can imagine that that will continue through their presidency.  And I think just seeing them out and about, that is going to be different, even if they only do it once every few months.  

MADDOW:  Really, it has an effect on everybody‘s social life to have

the president, Bill Clinton, for example, who didn‘t like to go to bed

early, having him -

(CROSS TALK)

But having the president and first lady out in the town, being involved in the social life of the town - makes a difference for the whole social life of a town? 

COX:  I think it does.  And also, I actually want to differentiate - I don‘t think they‘re going to be going to a lot of like, cocktail parties.

MADDOW:  Right.

COX:  I see them as more like they go on date nights, right? 

MADDOW:  Right.

COX:  But there is a whole new raft of people, that are the important people in Washington.  And they are the people that are going to be the ones that are high in demand for the cocktail parties and Georgetown, too.  It‘s a cliche.  There‘s a reason it‘s a cliche. 

And people like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs are already

sending off more invitations that they can handle.  And also -

MADDOW:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) problem to have.

COX:  I have to say like we have a very hot incoming administration, or I should say administration.

MADDOW:  You mean hot in the technical sense? 

COX:  If by that, you mean handsome and good looking.  Or do you mean actually physically temperature (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

Technically - I think technically, they are all 98.2.  But you know - but not technically.  You know, these are young, good looking and kind of hip crowd.  And I think that that‘s going to really energize the younger set in Washington, which - this is not one of the more pressing issues of our time but I‘m looking forward to it.  

MADDOW:  Here‘s the president at the Commander-In-Chief Ball.  

OBAMA:  Today, every day, forever.  And, finally, I want to thank all of the enlisted men and women and junior officers here tonight. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

It is wonderful to be surrounded by some of the very best and bravest Americans.  Your courage, your grace, and your patriotism inspire us all.  To you, and to all of those watching from around the world, know that as president, I will have no greater honor or responsibility than serving as your Commander-In-Chief. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Right now, as we gather here in Washington, we are sobered by the knowledge that we have troops serving in all corners of the world, many of them in harm‘s way.  We are fighting two wars.  We face dangerous threats to our security, and we depend on the men and women of our Armed Services to keep us safe. 

We also know that service and sacrifice aren‘t limited to those who wear the uniform, because every time a service member deploys, there‘s an empty seat at the table back home and a family that has to bear an extra burden.  That‘s why Michelle has spent so much time these last few months working with our military families. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And that‘s why tonight, we don‘t just salute our troops.  We salute the military families who have earned the respect of a grateful nation. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Understand, tonight isn‘t simply about the inauguration of an American president.  It‘s a celebration of our military and our military families.  So going forward, you will have our support and our respect. 

You will have a great Secretary of Defense in Bob Gates. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

You will have a great Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Gen. Eric Shinseki.  And every single day that I‘m in the White House, I will try to serve you as well as you are serving the United States of America. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

As I said earlier today, all of the tests we face are new.  And the ways in which we meet them may be new.  The values on which our success depends are old.  Those values, like hard work and honesty, courage and tolerance, loyalty and patriotism - those are values that are embodied in our Armed Forces. 

What‘s required is for all of us to return to those values.  What‘s required is all of us embrace a new era of responsibility where we expect and demand not only more of our leaders, but more of ourselves. 

So tonight, we celebrate.  But tomorrow the work begins. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And I look forward to joining you in that effort together.  I am confident that we will write the next great chapter in America‘s story. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Now, I‘ve got a little surprise for some of you.  As I said before, we have folks who are working right now in Iraq, in Afghanistan.  And it appears, if our technology works the way it‘s supposed to, that we should have members of the Illinois Army National Guard, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Unit from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Illinois. 

               

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Hey, guys!

SERGEANT MAJOR MARK BOWMAN, 33RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  Hello, Sir. 

Mr. President. 

OBAMA:  This must be -

BOWMAN:  My name is Sergeant Major Mark Bowman.  Sergeant Major of the 33rd Brigade Combat Team - go ahead.  The task force is finished here in Kabul.  Good morning, Sir.  

OBAMA:  I was told there was going to be a delay.  This is Sergeant Major Mark Bowman.  Before you say anything else, can you please introduce the rest of your crew there? 

BOWMAN:  Yes, Sir.  It‘s all about them, the people I work for.  I‘m from Chicago.  Most people here are from the Chicago area sir.  And we‘re just so honored that you‘re taking time in this busy day to talk to us. 

But before I pass the mike on, I want to invite you back to Afghanistan and sit down with some of the great Afghans we work with as we develop their security forces.  Come on back when you get a chance, sir.  

OBAMA:  I will be back. 

BOWMAN:  Let me pass this on. 

SPECIALIST HOWARD, 33RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  How are you doing, Mr.

President?  Specialist Howard from Chicago, Illinois.

OBAMA:  West side, south side? 

HOWARD:  West side, Sir. 

OBAMA:  West side.  Go ahead, Sir.  

STAFF SERGEANT ROBERTO ERIC, 33RD INFANTRY BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  Hi, Mr. President.  I‘m Staff Sergeant Roberto Eric(ph).  I‘m from Midway Airport in (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Chicago, Illinois.  

OBAMA:  Can I ask a question before you pass on the mike, we‘ve got three Chicago guys.  This is an important test.  White sox or Cubs? 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cubs, Mr. President. 

OBAMA:  I‘m sorry.  I‘m sorry, I couldn‘t hear you -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cubs fan. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cubs.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cubs Fan, Mr. President. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  Go to the next guy.  Let‘s see if we can find a White Sox fan. 

SERGEANT BERNARDO GINN, 33RD INFANTRY BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  Sergeant

Bernardo Ginn(ph) -

(ECHO FROM OBAMA)

From North Lake, Illinois.  Cubs fan. 

OBAMA:  It‘s terrible. 

SPECIALIST MELISSA KREEGER, 33RD INFANTRY BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  Hi, Mr. President, Specialist Melissa Kreeger(ph) from Naperville, Cubs fan.  Go Cubs!

SPECIALIST GIOVANNA GUERRA, 33RD INFANTRY BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  Good morning, sir.  Specialist Giovanna Guerra(ph), from Chicago, Illinois, Hyde Park to be exact.  And I am a Sox fan.  

OBAMA:  Hey, finally.  It‘s about time.  All right. 

(LAUGHTER)

SPECIALIST HERNANDEZ, 33RD INFANTRY BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM:  Good morning, Mr. President.  Specialist Hernandez from Illinois.  I want to say hi to my family at home and I‘m a Cubs fan. 

OBAMA:  Well, Sergeant Major, we may be outnumbered, us White Sox fans, but whether you‘re a White Sox, Cubs or Cardinals, we‘ve got some folks probably from Scott Air Force Base or something down in Metro East.  No matter where you are from, we are all grateful to you for your outstanding service.  You make us proud.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.  

OBAMA:  And we are going to do everything we can to make your work go smoother and you need to know that every single American, regardless of party, regardless of what their politics are, support you.  And will always support you.  Thank you so much. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Thank you everybody.  And I will see you either back home or out where you guys are.  Thank you and we salute you.  Thank you, very much. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, Sir.  Going across. 

OBAMA:  Give them a big round of applause, please. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

With that, we have one more person that I need to introduce.  That would be the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama.  I may have been stood up. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(MUSIC AND FOOTAGE OF THE OBAMAS DANCING)

MADDOW:  You are looking at the image of the president and first lady dancing at the Commander-In-Chief Ball tonight, live in Washington, D.C.  The president getting, frankly, a heck of a reception from those assembled at the Commander-In-Chief Ball which, of course, honors our enlisted active duty and reserve military. 

Reciting in somewhat serious remarks, some of the same themes of the inaugural address, with some passion and some seriousness, alluding to the fact that the First Lady‘s marquis issue will likely be that the military families.  A big cheer for Bob Gates being kept on as Secretary of Defense and even bigger cheer for Eric Shinseki being brought on board as veteran secretary. 

The president surprised everyone with a live but sort of awkwardly delayed video feed to Kabul where he spoke with - I believe he said members of the 33rd Brigade Combat Team, members of the Illinois National Guard.  Most of them Cubs fans, much to the palpable disappointment of the president. 

Joining us now is NBC‘s chief White House correspondent, political director and the co-author of the new book, “How Obama Won,” Chuck Todd.  Chuck Todd, thank you very much for joining us today. 

We‘re looking at images of the Commander-In-Chief Ball.  Chuck, from your vantage point as White House correspondent, how do you think today‘s inaugural festivities went overall? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC‘S CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Obviously, they went very well.  I think what has struck me is just how much a part of the entire message that Obama is trying to send to the public, that he included even in the balls themselves.  You know, the first ball he went to was called the Neighborhood Ball.  You know, this idea of community activism, bringing more people. 

He said he wanted to be a member of the neighborhood, that that‘s the way he would be.  This one, the Commander-In-Chief Ball, keeping on a tradition started only one inaugural festivity ago by now-former President Bush.  But again, he wants to show that he is going to be - he wants to be seen as just as pro-military as the previous administration. 

So, you know, there is method to this.  You know, this isn‘t all about just 10 celebratory balls where suddenly you‘re just, you know, getting donors on board.  Notice these first balls, to me, are also almost woven in as part of his inaugural festivity and even as part of the inaugural which we heard a portion of tonight at this Commander-In-Chief Ball, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Chuck, we‘re seeing - we‘re comparing - we‘re just looking at right now, president and first lady actually dancing with members of the military in uniform in addition to dancing with each other. 

Much more lengthy remarks here from the president that he made at his home state ball.  Is there a need to get it more pitch perfect, president speaking again - excuse me. 

(MUSIC)

Does he need to be getting this more pitch perfect, Chuck, than he did say with the more off-the-cuff remarks at his home state ball? 

TODD:  No, I think he‘s hit it pretty well.  I mean, tonight, you know, everything feels as if it was on message.  And in many ways, it‘s very similar to how his entire campaign was put together and how his entire political career is put together. 

There has been a well-thought out plan, a well-put together plan, whether for the primary campaign, the general election, this transition, which seems to have had a methodical-ness to it that makes it so they don‘t seem to make a stupid mistake. 

I mean, you know, there‘s a gap every now and then.  But there‘s been a bigger plan in place and they seem to be very careful at how they implement it, including the message they want to send with the inaugural balls that they attend.  

MADDOW:  Chuck Todd, NBC‘s chief White House correspondent and political director.  Chuck, thank you and enjoy the rest of this night and this big new adventure in reporting.  Thanks.  

TODD:  You got it, Rachel.  See you tomorrow. 

MADDOW:  There are lots of ways to tell when an event is really, really, really important.  One way is if nearly two million people stand out in the cold for hours waving flags and cheering and prompting exactly zero arrests. 

At my job, I know it‘s a big deal when Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews and Gene Robinson and I spend hours and hours and hours on TV describing and analyzing events.  So this must be a big one.

Joining us now here on set are Keith, Chris, and Gene.  Fellows, welcome back.  Nice to see you, guys.

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”:  Thank you.  This sure obviates the need for my introducing everybody, doesn‘t it?

MADDOW:  No, go ahead and do it again. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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