Welcome to the "Daily Briefing" for Tuesday, January 20, 2009.
I am writing to you again from our workspace on the national mall at 7th and Jefferson Streets.
I walked here his morning from my home near Georgetown University and based on my own experience with large crowds, thanks to 20 plus years of going to games at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, my view is that this crowd today was at least 2.5 million. The Mall has a capacity of 2 million or so. But, what you couldn't see today from the Mall was the number of people who simply couldn't get north of Independence Avenue and south of Constitution because the north-south streets were jammed. Essentially, everybody on the Mall today was there before 10 a.m. Hundreds of thousands of people who came later couldn't squeeze in because there simply wasn't enough room.
Anyway, this event will go down as the largest event in U.S. history and that's appropriate. For the first time in 220 years of our government, we have an African-American as President of the United States. History has been made. And the celebration today is something that I think few of us will ever forget.
We will start the show again tonight with my friend and colleague Chris Matthews.
He has a fascinating take on President Obama's speech, especially the line, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”
Then, we will take you behind the scenes. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., was one of the lawmakers who was seen shaking Obama's hand as the President walked out of the capitol and down the steps towards his seat. Davis will join us to talk about what he saw, heard, and talked about in the VIP section during the swearing in. Also, I'm curious to hear what the assembled VIPs thought when they saw the massive crowds on the Mall as far as the eye could see.
We will also speak tonight with Steve Hildebrand, Barack Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager. Steve is the guy who is trying to figure out how best to leverage the energy of the campaign and people who came to Washington today in order to help Obama's policy agenda.
Later, we will chat with a remarkable man from Springfield, Ohio. Sonny Young own/runs a barber shop and organized for President Barack Obama out of his shop. He says he's always regretted passing up an opportunity in 1968 to come to Washington for Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech." So, Young was determined to come to D.C. for Obama's inauguration today. Despite some serious health challenges, Young made it. You will meet him and hear how today fits into a remarkable life story.
By the way, the world reaction to this day in Washington has also been remarkable. From Kenya to Cape Town, Beirut to Baghdad, Seoul to Sydney, and all points in between, the visuals have been uplifting and hopeful. We will take you through how this inauguration has been received around the globe.
Also, before I forget, in the world of live TV, we often tend to lose some context and perspective as everything flashes by and we move on to the next image or moment. So, tonight in our 6 p.m., we are going to air a 4 minute video essay recapping the most extraordinary images, moments, sights, and sounds from this inauguration.
The man behind this effort is my friend and MSNBC colleague Chris Pendy. For 6 years, I had the pleasure of working with him on Hardball. He is the best producer/editor we have and he has some extraordinary artistic talents, particularly when it comes to blending amazing images, inspiring speech, and music.
Finally, President Bush will be arriving in Midland, Texas at some point during our hour. We expect him to make remarks and will bring them to you live.
Our quote of the day comes from President Barack Obama's inaugural address today:
"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."
Thanks in advance for watching our 6 p.m. show tonight. "1600" airs at 6 p.m. in downtown D.C., 5 p.m. in Chicago, 4 p.m. in Boise, and 3 p.m. in San Francisco.