As the crowds thinned following President Barack Obama's second inaugural address and people headed home, they may have passed a military Humvee parked outside the Farragut Square Starbucks (because if a major state of emergency were declared, it would be essential to protect critical infrastructure, and the world's largest coffee chain certainly qualifies).
Out-of-town visitors looking for the nearest Metro station may have come across a happy man dancing on the steps of Constitution Hall on 18th Street.
And some people might have spotted me holding a wireless microphone with the iconic purple Yahoo! logo, ready to ask their impressions of the president's speech and how it made them feel about the next four years for the United States.
We interviewed two kinds of people on the National Mall today: those who heard President Obama's speech, and those who, because of serioustechnical difficulties at the westernmost Jumbotron, could not.
Meanwhile those who heard President Obama's words were hopeful for the future — it's not surprising that people willing to stand in the cold for hours are fans of the president — and felt that the next four years would be better than the previous four.
The president's references to equality, the economy, and climate change generated some of the more specific positive reactions. Meanwhile, asignificant number of people we interviewed stressed the president's seemingly central theme: that achieving any progress will require working together, with "together" meaning not only the White House and Congress, but also the American people more broadly. If the nation's elected officials can maintain even a small portion of the face-painted enthusiasm on display at the Mall, such progress may indeed be within reach.
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