20 January 2009, USA: “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear …” Well, nothing was more stunning and cathartic than those few words. Not the remarkable American diorama — in all its polychromatic wonder — spread out for miles on the National Mall in Washington. Not the clear, sober cadences of our new President’s Inaugural Address. Not the prayers and tears, the unstoppable smiles and barely controlled giddiness of what may have been the happiest crowd ever to grace the nation’s capital. A man named Barack Hussein Obama is now the President of the United States. He came to us as the ultimate outsider in a nation of outsiders — the son of an African visitor and a white woman from Kansas — and he has turned us inside out. That he leads us now is a breathtaking statement of American open-mindedness and, yes, our native liberality. Even before his first act as President, and no matter how he fares in the office, he stands as a singular event in our history.
– January 20, 2009