2021 Inauguration Live Chat

Times journalists provided live commentary on the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris. If you missed the event, watch the video above and catch up on the chat below.

  • Adrienne Shih
    Adrienne Shih Audience engagement editor

    Good morning! Welcome to our Times Inauguration Day live chat. Our journalists will join us shortly at 7:30 am PT/10:30 am ET. Here’s some more information about how today’s events will unfold https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-19/what-time-is-the-inauguration-2021-biden-event-details

    7:14 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Good morning. I’m David Lauter, senior Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. For the next couple of hours, I’ll be your host as we watch, analyze and answer your questions about the inauguration of Joe Biden as the nation’s 46th president and Kamala Harris as vice president – the first woman to hold that position. With me are several of my colleagues from Washington and California. We’re glad to have you with us for this historic occasion.

    7:24 AM
  • Doyle McManus
    Doyle McManus Washington Columnist

    Good morning from Washington! I'm Doyle McManus, a columnist for The Times -- and a veteran of presidential inaugurations going back to 1992.

    7:33 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    If you're watching with the sound on, that's the music of the United States Marine Corps Band you hear in the background -- part of the ritual of handing over of power.

    7:39 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    A very different soundtrack than what we heard about 90 minutes ago, when President Trump held something of a farewell rally at Joint Base Andrews before flying to Florida. He left the stage to "YMCA" and then they played Sinatra's "My Way" on the tarmac as Air Force One was taking off. Quite a scene.

    7:43 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Melanie, you've watched soon-to-be President Biden for nearly two years now through his campaign. What are you looking for as today's events start to unfold?

    7:44 AM
  • Melanie Mason
    Melanie Mason Reporter

    It's worth thinking about how long this path has been for Biden. Three presidential runs. A decades-long Senate career. Serving as vice president himself. And of course, the personal losses he endured. Biden doesn't shy away from being emotive at big moments -- just look how he teared up when he said goodbye to Delaware -- and I'll be watching to see if he lets himself take in the enormity of today.

    7:48 AM
  • Adrienne Shih
    Adrienne Shih Audience engagement editor

    We’ve received a couple of reader questions, so thank you if you sent one in! Starting off with one from William Barlow: If President Trump is flying aboard “Air Force One” on Inauguration Day, does it cease to be called that, at noon, Eastern Time (since he’s no longer the President)?

    7:49 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    It does lose that designation right at noon. That was a big reason why Trump decided to leave as early as he did, at 9 a.m., so that the aircraft will still be considered "Air Force One" when he lands in Florida.

    7:52 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Erika Smith, you've been watching Kamala Harris in her political rise. What's at the top of your mind as we watch her family enter the stage?

    7:55 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    Thanks David. As you said, I’ve been watching her rise in California politics as a columnist. This is a historic day, with Harris being the first Black woman and first South Asian woman to become vice president. I’ll be looking to see how she addresses the many Americans of color who will be looking to her for leadership in this tumultuous period.

    7:59 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    As the Biden family enters, keep in mind the family member who isn't there, the President-elect's son, Beau. Yesterday afternoon, as he said farewell to Delaware at a national guard post named after his late son, the President-elect visibly wept as he recalled his absence.

    8:01 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    I have to admit, it’s strange seeing so many Republicans wearing masks, including outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen.

    8:02 AM
  • Doyle McManus
    Doyle McManus Washington Columnist

    The most obvious thing about today's events is how abnormal they are: no crowds, no parade, politicians in masks -- and Trump boycotting the ceremony. But it's striking to me how normal the other politicians on both sides are trying to make it. Lots of bipartisanship on display. Applause from both sides for Vice President Pence. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) walked into the Capitol together. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) attended the pre-ceremony Mass with Biden at St. Michael's Cathedral.

    8:07 AM
  • Doyle McManus
    Doyle McManus Washington Columnist

    Public ceremonies carry important messages. The message, to me, is that all those Republicans are formally recognizing that Joe Biden is president, and that they want politics to return to a more normal state -- even though, beginning tomorrow, both parties will return to battling over many issues.

    8:09 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Gustavo Arellano has joined us. Gustavo, what will you be looking for in today's ceremonies?

    8:10 AM
  • Melanie Mason
    Melanie Mason Reporter

    Talk about symbolism: US Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who diverted a mob from overrunning the Senate on Jan. 6, led in Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to the inaugural platform. That's a pretty deft way to acknowledge the instability of the last few weeks and project a message of overcoming it.

    8:13 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    For me, it's about Biden's speech. He's a big-hearted man who doesn't like bullies but also doesn't like to dwell in negativity, so I'm expecting a masterpiece: Something that repudiates the past four years without dwelling in them, that seeks to comfort the U.S. at one of the lowest points in our history — 400,000 dead from a pandemic that shows no signs of stopping, battered economy, and so much more — and that offers a way forward. Together. Although, he's already a winner in the oratory department as long as he doesn't repeat the phrase "American carnage," which will go down in the annals of this Republic as one of the whiniest statements ever uttered by a politician — and this is the country where Richard Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew once ruled.

    8:14 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    Kamala Harris, as expected, is wearing her signature pearls -- a symbol of the historically Black sorority to which she belongs, Alpha Kappa Alpha. A lot of women who couldn’t be in D.C. today are holding online watch parties wearing pearls and Chucks in her honor.

    8:14 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Another fashion note: You may have noticed that both Hillary Clinton and Vice-President-elect Harris are wearing purple. Another symbol: red + blue.

    8:15 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Quarterly reminder that the super-American John Philip Sousa was born to immigrants — and immigrants (Portuguese and Germans) that at some point in American history weren't considered white.

    8:16 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Meantime, for those in California who may be wondering, the temperature at the Capitol currently is about 42 degrees. That's quite a bit warmer than some previous Inauguration Days we've had, but chillier than the past several days.

    8:16 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    While the country is focused on all this pageantry, Trump has just landed in Florida (after Air Force One flew right over his Mar a Lago estate) and deplaned on an empty tarmac. Here is our piece on his strange, self-focused departure and his breaking a 152-year tradition of outgoing presidents taking part in the inauguration ceremonies of their successor. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-01-20/trump-breaking-a-final-norm-skips-bidens-swearing-in-and-decamps-to-florida

    8:18 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    As the President-elect enters, note that the accompanying music is not "Hail to the Chief." He doesn't get that until after he's sworn in. Another small ritual touch.

    8:19 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    While I'm all about the brass-band music (I grew up on the stuff as the son of zacatecanos), has there ever been a study done about whether it's coronavirus-safe? Every time I see someone blowing on trumpets and tubas, I want to reach for my N95 mask even as I sway to the rhythms...

    8:20 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    I've wondered the same, Gustavo. I've seen some bands put masks over the horns, but the Marine Band decided that wasn't necessary.

    8:20 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    We're joined by our colleague Seema Mehta in Los Angeles. What are you watching for today, Seema?

    8:21 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Amy Klobuchar always with the better-than-expected humor with the "all the Bidens" comment.

    8:21 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    Never doubt the Midwestern humor, Gustavo

    8:22 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    It's a thing, Erika. I once did a spiel at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. NEVER did I get so much silence—but everyone said they loved it and thought I was funny. Wisconsin nice...

    8:24 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Sen. Klobuchar, of course, hoped to be delivering a different speech at Inauguration Day. But she worked hard for the Biden-Harris ticket, and as head of the Senate's administrative committee, she does get this reward.

    8:25 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Amy had all the Mom jokes on the campaign trail last year.

    8:25 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Hi David and readers. This seems like an inauguration unlike any we’ve ever seen before, from the lack of crowds because of COVID to the heightened security because of the insurrection that took place just last week. I’m curious about how it plays out on television without the crowds and with the social distancing. And I’m most curious about President-Elect Joe Biden’s message about uniting the nation after the tumultuous past four years.

    8:25 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    I'd rather have Roy Blount, Jr. on stage right now than Roy Blunt.

    8:26 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    As the senators give their introductory speeches, we're joined by our colleague Mark Barabak. What do you think so far, Mark?

    8:27 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Hi, all.

    8:29 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Blunt's "We are more than we have been and we are less than we have to be" is a line out of Dennis Green's "They are who we thought they were" NFL press conference of YouTube fame...

    8:29 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    I'm eager for the speechifying to begin. Tone is so important.
    Think of the tone President Trump set with his remarks about “American carnage” and the subsequent dust-up over the exaggerated size of his inauguration crowd. Joe Biden, it seems to me, has a challenge: He’ll undoubtedly call for unity, as every president should. But if he’s too sun-shiney there’s the risk of seeming tone deaf and Pollyanish. The country is in a tough, tough spot. Arguably, he faces the most challenges of any incoming president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. No one will ever mistake Joe Biden for FDR. But can he summon the country along the lines of “nothing to fear but fear itself?”

    8:30 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    I’d really love to know what’s going through Mike Pence’s head right now as the invocation is being read.

    8:32 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Father Leo O'Donovan is giving the invocation. He's a Jesuit, the same order that counts Pope Francis among its members. Anytime I think about Jesuits, I remember how they're now having the ultimate revenge against the Spanish crown centuries after their expulsion from the Americas...and shoutout to all alumni of Loyola High in L.A.!

    8:32 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    I think, to Doyle's point earlier, there's a lot of relief even among several Republicans, even Mike Pence to some extent, to turn the page on the Trump era. You could hear it in Sen. Roy Blunt's opening remarks, calling this inauguration a "moment of unification" and "renewal."

    8:35 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Biden, of course, will be only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, and unlike several of his predecessors, he's a person who takes his religious faith very seriously. While the church hierarchy has often been associated with political conservatism, Biden comes out of a different tradition, the teachings of the Catholic social justice movement, which has had a strong impact on him.

    8:35 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    One can’t help but be caught up in the pageantry of the day. There’s a hopefulness in the air, even if your candidate didn’t win. (Save for the must dug-in opponents). It’s like a brief cloud break during a very dark time. That’s not meant as a partisan observation, by the way. If you love this country and care about your fellow Americans, you have to root for the president, any president, to succeed.

    8:36 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    And then there's Lady Gaga

    8:36 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Here's where you know you're not at a Republican inauguration.

    8:36 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    Democrats really do have all the best musicians.

    8:37 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    LOVE the golden dove on Gaga's chest, as she sings that old chestnut of a war song

    8:37 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Lady Gaga is the first of many celebrities we will see today. J Lo, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters etc etc etc are up later today, a fact that reportedly annoyed President Trump in recent days. He had trouble getting celebrities to turn out for his inauguration four years ago. Country star Toby Keith was the biggest name. And Chachi from Happy Days and one of the guys with the massive beards from Duck Dynasty.

    8:38 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    And a golden microphone!

    8:38 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    That line about "the flag was still there" takes on new meaning after the assault on the Capitol.

    8:38 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    The anthem hits a bit different today.

    8:39 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Is it is just me, or does half the audience seem to consist of people who ran for president? There were, at one point, more than two dozen Democrats in the contest against Biden

    8:39 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Biden was the first person in his crowd turned toward the flag during the Pledge. The man is ready to work

    8:40 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    I hope they were all tested because it doesn't seem like there is a lot of social distancing taking place.

    8:40 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    May this not be a super-spreader event...BUT everyone is wearing masks.

    8:41 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    The first Latina Supreme Court justice swearing in the first Black/female/Asian-American vice president. There's history for you

    8:41 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Kamala just low-key corrected Justice Sotomayor's pronunciation of her first name haha

    8:42 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    The vice presidential oath, as you can see, is different -- and longer -- than the presidential oath. It's the one every other federal appointee takes.

    8:42 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Regardless what you feel about her politics, seeing a woman of color sworn in is such a meaningful moment. Little girls growing up today will never have known a time when they didn't see someone who looked like them in the highest echelons of power. A story by our colleague Melanie Mason on Harris' many firsts: https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-11-07/harris-vice-president

    8:43 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Between Gaga, Justice Sotomayor, and J-Lo, Biden already giving Trump a Bronx cheer of NYC celebrities during his inauguration

    8:44 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    This ceremony is a true display of the diversity of America. What a contrast to what we saw four years ago.

    8:44 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    Quite a moment just now watching Harris take the oath. Punctuated, under the circumstances, by a fist-bump with Biden, not a hug.

    8:44 AM
  • Adrienne Shih
    Adrienne Shih Audience engagement editor

    If you’re interested in more coverage for the day, we’re also running a live blog, with feeds from reporters on the ground in D.C. https://www.latimes.com/politics/liveblog/2021-biden-inauguration-day-live-updates

    8:45 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    To Erika's point: The lyrics of these patriotic standbys just have a different overtone now: "This land is made for you and me."

    8:46 AM
  • Erin B. Logan
    Erin B. Logan Reporter

    Hey y'all! Don't forget to check out our live blog. I'm posting the latest developments as they happen.

    8:46 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    What must be going through Joe Biden's head right now. He first ran for president 34 years ago.

    8:48 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    And even though Woody Guthrie is Oklahoma's greatest son, let us not forgot he had his own encounters with Trump's father

    8:48 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    As we get ready for Biden to take the oath, our colleague Henry Chu in London has joined in. What's the view from the other side of the ocean, Henry?

    8:48 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    There is it. Grudgingly, by some, with malice aforethought by others, the transition of power is complete.

    8:49 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    It's official now. Cue "Hail to the Chief."

    8:49 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    And. Here. We. Go.

    8:50 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Hello from London, where dusk is falling but many eyes are on what's happening in Washington.

    8:51 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    There are, of course, a significant number of people in the U.S. who not only didn't want to see this transition take place but deeply believed that it wouldn't happen. Now that Biden is officially President of the United States, will those believers recognize that they were lied to? Or will the conspiracy theories just mutate?

    8:51 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    I can't get over how quiet it is. Such a reminder of the state of the country that Biden and Harris just agreed to govern.

    8:51 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    From across the Atlantic: The president of the European Commission has already called it a "new dawn in America" that they've been awaiting "for so long."

    8:52 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    And I'm sitting in a country that knows how to do pomp and circumstance, but there hasn't been a coronation in Britain for nearly 68 years. This quadrennial spectacle is always followed closely here.

    8:52 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Biden shouted out McConnell but not McCarthy—hmm...

    8:52 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    "This is America's day," Biden begins. "This is democracy's day"

    8:53 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    "Democracy has prevailed." This is quite the contrast from the "American carnage" speech President Trump delivered four years ago. Optimistic vs dystopian.

    8:54 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    “We celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but a cause.” Biden is again casting himself as part of a larger mission of American democracy.

    8:54 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    In Europe and many countries around the world, political leaders are watching Biden speak and saying to themselves, with complete accuracy, "I know that man."

    8:55 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    "I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today," Biden says, reminding everyone of the traditional transfer of power and his predecessor's decision not to take part.

    8:55 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    "A cry for racial justice 400 years in the making" — somewhere, Nikole Hanna-Jones is smiling...

    8:56 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Biden isn't stinting addressing the plagues facing the country: pandemic, economic loss, racial inequality. Calls right-wing violence out for what it is: "domestic terrorism"

    8:57 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    “The dream of (racial) justice for all will be deferred no longer.” Big promises from Biden.

    8:57 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Biden has already talked more about COVID than Trump has since Election Day

    8:57 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    That was, almost surely, the first time that a President ever mentioned "white supremacy" in an Inaugural address.

    8:57 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    But it's not an "American carnage riff," but rather a summons to unity to overcome those plagues

    8:57 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    Indeed the word "unity" is the recurrent theme of this speech.

    8:58 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    "Uniting to fight the foes we face" — as someone who relies too much on alliteration, I salute you, Biden's speechwriter

    8:59 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    There's the reality check: Speaking of unity can sound like a fantasy, Biden acknowledges. But the country has pulled together before. Invocation of Lincoln's "better angels"

    8:59 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Though he is saying it in different words, this is the same message Biden consistently delivered on the campaign trail -- a deep-rooted faith that though the nation's fabric is frayed, the nation has the capacity to come together and restore it.

    9:00 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    "Without unity there is no peace. Only bitterness and fury"

    9:00 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    "Treat each other with dignity and respect" -- plenty of American allies are hoping he means that in a more global/international sense.

    9:00 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Did the camera just cut to Mike Pence when Biden said, "Facts are manipulated"?

    9:01 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Indeed, as Seema just noted, Biden consistently said his inspiration to run was the shameful racist display in Charlottesville and his singular mission was helping bind those wounds.

    9:01 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire" is a repudiation of one of the central spirits of Trumpism.

    9:02 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    "Don't tell me things can't change," Biden says, pointing to Vice President Kamala Harris -- first time I typed those words! -- as an exemplar

    9:02 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    This is a very Biden speech. He's never been a great orator. But there's a genuineness that's been part of his political appeal.

    9:03 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Great use of the word "peaceably"

    9:03 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    There’s a fine line between being an optimist and being pollyannaish. I suspect the effectiveness of the Biden administration will depend on how it walks that line.

    9:03 AM
  • Adrienne Shih
    Adrienne Shih Audience engagement editor

    If you’re enjoying our Times coverage of the inauguration, consider subscribing for more political coverage. Sign up at https://www.latimes.com/subscriptions/

    9:04 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    You're right, Mark. This is not soaring rhetoric — but it is firm and heartfelt and what many in our country want right now

    9:05 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Mark, that's one of the reasons Biden is where he is today. The Trump campaign couldn't paint him the same way they could Hillary Clinton, because even many voters who may not have supported him thought he was a decent guy.

    9:05 AM
  • David Lauter
    David Lauter Senior Washington correspondent

    The counterpoint to being overly optimistic is in that line Biden just delivered: "There is truth and there are lies."

    9:05 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Again, I think Biden playing it smart. A speech full of a lot of high-flown "let us" rhetoric isn't who he is. The conversational tone suits him, because it's who he is.

    9:07 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    "There is no accounting what fate will deal you." That line has such significance for a man who has seen so much tragedy in his life.

    9:07 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    That would be affirmative, Seema https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-22/joe-biden-is-not-hillary-clinton-trump-reelection

    9:07 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    How many presidents have said in their inaugural address: "Look, folks..."

    9:08 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Right-o, Henry. Waiting for "malarkey"

    9:08 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    "Strong and trusted partner for peace": again, words that many outside the U.S. and capitals outside Washington want to hear.

    9:08 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning," is Psalms 30:5. But I always remember this sentiment as "Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East," from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers haha

    9:09 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Framing is everything. Trump ticked off the pathologies he saw as American carnage and used them to cleave the country. Biden cites the genuine challenges the country faces as summons to unite and do better.

    9:11 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    "An American story of hope, not fear" should've been Biden's slogan from the start, because it's a great phrase and gets to the man who's now the 46th president of the United States

    9:13 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    A "beacon to the world": That's a major challenge for the U.S. after the Trump presidency and the insurrection at the Capitol two weeks ago.

    9:15 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Between Garth Brooks and Woody Guthrie, Oklahoma having as much representation among the Inauguration Day singers as NYC

    9:16 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    So after just an hour, I've been promoted and am taking over the job of host and moderator from my colleague, David Lauter. Not that this group needs a whole lot of prompting. Thoughts, everyone?

    9:16 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Drama-free — which is what we all need

    9:17 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    That was as much a speech aimed at his supporters in, say, California, as it was his opponents. Smart for Biden to frame his agenda as a call to action for the future. Who doesn’t want a more stable future for their kids?

    9:18 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Bruised but standing and ready for what's next is how Biden cast the United States, and it's a accurate and rightful assessment

    9:19 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Quite a difference, no Erika? Trump made no secret that his overarching interest was appealing to his base. Never a true effort to broaden his appeal which, in the end, helped lead to his ouster.

    9:19 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    From abroad, this was a typically American event: the flag, Hollywood glamour, reflections and assertions of American greatness. But they all take on new meaning given what has happened in the last four years, the last two months, and the last two weeks.

    9:20 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    A little background on the L.A.-based poet who is now speaking: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2021-01-17/amanda-gorman-biden-inauguration-poet

    9:20 AM
  • Eli Stokols
    Eli Stokols White House reporter

    As crises mounted over the past year, the political moment seemed more and more suited for Biden, his reassuring message and personification of empathy, the authenticity of his calls to bipartisanship. In this historic moment, he was true to his character, eschewing soaring rhetoric and blind optimism for direct talk to regular people about the many problems they confront. It was realism, but aspirational, summoning a national spirit to face these challenges. Has to sound remarkable to the country after the last four years.

    9:21 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Amanda is great, and this poem is smart — can't wait to read it. I remember when Maya Angelou recited "On the Pulse of Morning" for the Clinton inauguration in '92, and not getting it until I read it. It, of course, is a masterpiece of profundity and place

    9:22 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Amazing, Eli, how clear these things seem in retrospect. A lot of discussion of, say, whether Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren could have been elected. We'll, of course, never know. But with 20-20 (2020) hindsight, there is that Biden meeting the moment sense of inevitability.

    9:23 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    In the back of my mind as I watched this was the concern that. there would be a repeat of last Wednesday, that violence would break out either in DC or elsewhere in the nation. A friend who is a teacher wanted to Zoom the inauguration for her students but was afraid to do so because of fears of violence. So thankful that this has been a peaceful transfer of power.

    9:24 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Survival from the brink, yet hope — the theme of all speakers and songs so far

    9:24 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    "If only we're brave enough to be it" — there it is

    9:24 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Wow, Amanda Gorman!!

    9:24 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Seema, I agree -- many I know here in London were both hopeful and fearful about the ceremony.

    9:25 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Which is probably no different from the feelings on your side of the Atlantic.

    9:25 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Exactly. But it is the first time those thoughts ever crossed my mind during an inauguration. Hopefully the last.

    9:26 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    If ever words could be a balm....

    9:26 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Actually, Seema, I recall a certain measure of fear in 2009 for Obama's first inauguration -- an African American president whose election dismayed plenty of white Americans. Especially with his walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in such a seemingly exposed way.

    9:28 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    What's missing: The traditional bipartisan lunch in the Capitol rotunda. The parade -- and walk by the new president and First Lady -- down Pennsylvania Avenue.

    9:28 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    That's an excellent point Henry.

    9:28 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    I recall speaking to many Black voters, particularly older voters, who had such deep fears that something would happen to him or his family.

    9:29 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    I was terrified. I don't know a Black person who wasn't.

    9:29 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    And just to bring it full circle, Henry, note how Trump's political career was launched in good part by propagating the lie -- let's call it for what it was -- that President Obama was an illegitimate president because he was not a native-born America

    9:30 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    And let's recall how many in the GOP stood by him and begged for his endorsement as he made such claims.

    9:31 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    OK, I can't be the only one breathing a sigh of relief that this has ended with no harm done. Sad, but true

    9:32 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    I don't know why this just occurred to me in such a clear way, when I'm sure countless other people have thought it: How galling this must be for Trump that his presidency is wedged between [Obama-]Biden on both sides, before and after.

    9:33 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Joe Biden steps up the Capitol stairs and toward his destiny

    9:33 AM
  • Doyle McManus
    Doyle McManus Washington Columnist

    Trump has often been quoted as exclaiming: "How could I lose to this guy?" If he watched Biden's speech, he might have learned a thing or two.

    9:34 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Meanwhile, social distancing is being tossed to the wind by everyone who hugged Biden and Harris. But at least I've yet to see anyone without a mask

    9:34 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Praise for those who helped pull it off. We heard a lot in the aftermath of 9/11 of not "letting the terrorists win." The transition has been completed, despite the violent resistance of some. The ceremony was conducted in the open and not some dark cavern. The president chosen by a majority of Americans has taken his rightful place in office, in view for all to see. The system worked. The terrorist mob failed.

    9:35 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Yes, Mark, British commentators, too, are remarking on what symbolic importance this held for viewers around the world in terms of a transfer of power happening peacefully.

    9:36 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    They needed to see it.

    9:36 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    As did we all.

    9:36 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    George W. Bush had a very famous line after the 2017 inauguration that I can't repeat because this is a family newspaper. Would love to hear his review of this one.

    9:37 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    How many parents are enrolling their children in poetry classes after hearing Amanda Gorman's poem? How many kids are bugging their parents for the same?

    9:37 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    She was incredible. What a moment.

    9:37 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    22 YEARS OLD

    9:37 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    You could sense her youthful nerves — but also a humanity that's ageless, and a confidence of genius

    9:38 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    Roughly translated, what Seema referred to was the moment when former President George W. Bush turned to Hillary Clinton after Trump spoke and said, "That was some weird [stuff]"

    9:38 AM
  • Doyle McManus
    Doyle McManus Washington Columnist

    Bottom line: As Biden said -- and as the circumstances made clear -- these are abnormal times. Bringing off a peaceful transition that was as normal as possible in every way was a success for our political system, carried off by leaders of both parties.

    9:40 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Certainly many outside the U.S. have been thinking: "Physician, heal thyself." Hopefully this is a start.

    9:41 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    The big question for me is what does this mean for the many Americans who do not accept the election, or who really believed that this day wouldn't happen and Trump would somehow be starting a second term. Does all that die down, or do they go deeper into the bunker?

    9:43 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    To Doyle's point about normalcy, one of the most obtuse moments of the 2020 campaign, to my mind, was a period when Biden disappeared for 48 hours or so of debate prep. Trump surrogates went on and on asking "Where's Joe Biden?" playing into their attempt to portray him as old, enfeebled, not up to the job. And I thought at the time, and still think, there are many millions of Americans who will welcome a 48-hour period in which they don't have to think about the president, what he's raging about, what TV show he's watching, what new fight he's picking with someone or another.

    9:44 AM
  • Erika D. Smith
    Erika D. Smith Columnist

    In my mind, that is the real question, Seema. It's one reason why I found it heartening to hear Biden talk about combatting white supremacy in his speech. Just because today was peaceful doesn't mean we're all safe yet.

    9:45 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    A bit of both, Seema, But make no mistake: Trump Nation is embittered and doesn't know what to do. This is an opening for Biden to, if not make overtures to them, at least show that they are not outcasts to his administration but rather Americans. That won't make folks on the Left happy, but it's the best way forward for Biden to truly unite.

    9:45 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Seeing VP Harris and Doug Emhoff escorting former VP Pence and Karen Pence to their car should be such a normal, not noteworthy moment. Yet it's one of the few transition of power traditions we've seen today.

    9:46 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    To Seema's point, the Perot movement morphed into the Ron Paul movement which morphed into the Tea Party movement which morphed into the Trump movement. Different individuals, in some instance, but there are folks who are unhappy and unsettled and aggrieved with the two major parties and their major actors and they will continue to be a force in our politics, whether or not Donald Trump remains a political force.

    9:47 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Once more the view from abroad: I'll repeat a point I made earlier, which is hard to overstate in terms of how the rest of the world views this. Many world leaders will have watched Biden taking the oath and speaking and will have thought to themselves -- with no exaggeration -- "I know this man." They've met him, and worked with him, and they are relieved.

    9:48 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    That's irreplaceable when it comes to global diplomacy.

    9:48 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    Mark, those folks have only done damage to the GOP. Short-term wins, long-term defeats. At one point does the GOP tell them to stick to the American Independence Party once and for all (or whatever Trump might create for himself) and focus on creating a winner?

    9:49 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    I’ve certainly heard from a lot of folks, on Twitter and via email in the last two hours, who aren’t a bit happy and continue to question Biden’s legitimacy and on. So no doubt, as the cliché goes, he and Kamala Harris have their work cut out for them.

    9:51 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    End the pandemic, fix the economy and we'll see what happens in 2022 and beyond.

    9:52 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    It's possible -- fingers crossed -- that once the process of governing actually begins, and White House politicking (via Twitter) isn't an unending chiron on Fox News/CNN/MSNBC/anywhere, passions might cool. Might.

    9:53 AM
  • Gustavo Arellano
    Gustavo Arellano Columnist

    The haters will always be there. But the fact that Biden is now officially president is a reality check to many of them. But what will Biden do with that smallest of openings?

    9:53 AM
  • Seema Mehta
    Seema Mehta Political reporter

    Right, I don't think we're anywhere close to knowing what happens with the GOP going forward. And the Democrats have their own internal fissures to deal with. The liberal and moderate parts of their party consolidated in part because of how deeply they opposed Trump. But that may not happen in the future.

    9:54 AM
  • Henry Chu
    Henry Chu Deputy News Editor

    Republicans are certainly faced with a stark fact: Only one Republican president in the last 32 years has won the popular vote (George W. Bush in 2004). The U.S. electoral system wins it for them.

    9:56 AM
  • Mark Z. Barabak
    Mark Z. Barabak Politics reporter

    With that, we end our live chat. Thanks to all my colleagues who participated and all of you readers who joined us. Hope everyone enjoyed the ceremony and its moments of grace. Now it’s back to work and the realities facing President Biden, his new administration and the rest of America. Good bye and good luck.

    9:59 AM
  • Adrienne Shih
    Adrienne Shih Audience engagement editor

    Thank you for following today’s inauguration live chat. If you’re enjoying our Times coverage of the inauguration, consider subscribing for more political coverage. Sign up at https://www.latimes.com/subscriptions/. Today, we also launched our new political beat, “Covering Kamala Harris,” dedicated to Harris’ historic rise to the White House: https://www.latimes.com/kamalaharris

    10:00 AM