PLANK JANUARY 21, 2013
At Monday's Inauguration ceremony, which was themed "Faith in America's Future," my corner of the Capitol lawn happened to be thronged with the the inheritors of said future: millennials. And although these Obama for America volunteers and Democratic Congressional staffers were admitted in such great numbers that many ticket holders for this section spent the ceremony with their arms pinned to their sides and straining to see, the running dialogue of the surrounding twentysomethings enlivened things for those who couldn't quite make out what was happening on stage. Here's how the youngest generation of voters enjoyed the proceedings.
"Game plan time: Go to the Inauguration. Watch Beyoncé sing the national anthem. Watch Obama get sworn in. Go home."
"I like how Josh is only posting pictures of newspapers' front pages. He's not here."
(A woman struggles to use her iPhone.) "These touch gloves suck."
"The best part of last time was when Bush got on the helicopter and started flying away. Everyone was waving like, byyyeee! Get the fuck out of here!"
"Hey, look, it's everyone who got a lesser ticket than we did."
(Paul Ryan appears on the Jumbo screens.) "Boo!"
(A bored crowd focuses on the antics of a protester, dubbed "Tree Guy," who has climbed nearly to the top of a very bendy, many-stories-tall pine tree, to wave a paper disc that read "Pray to Stop Abortions.")
"Did they get Tree Guy?"
"At least we have a solid view of Tree Guy."
"Come on, Tree Guy. You're killing me."
(A woman's tweet fails to go through.) "What is their problem?"
"Dude, lol. I think we trapped those people in their port-o-potties."
(As the crowd boos Newt Gingrich.) "Don't worry. We're saying 'Neeeewt.'"
"This is really cool."
"I can't believe anybody would bring a baby here!"
"How's Tree Guy doing? Is he still up there?"
"I mean, what are they going to do? They can't tranquilize him, he'll fall."
"Does Tree Man have a hash tag?"
"Do #TreeMan! See if you can get it trending."
"What if they tranquilize him and put out a net?"
(Beyoncé appears on the screen.) "WOOOOOO!"
(Joe Biden appears on the screen.) "Woo!"
(Jimmy Carter and his wife appear on the screen.) "Aww! How old are they?"
(Myrlie Evers-Williams gives the invocation). "This is a long-ass prayer."
"I could look up whoever she is if you could get a damn signal around here."
(Sen. Chuck Schumer introduces the president.) "SCHOOM!"
(The crowd is quiet throughout Obama's inauguration speech, excepting Tree Guy, who yells, hoarsely, "What about the babies!" and "Abortion is the American holocaust!" and the people who heckle him, promising to beat his ass. As Kelly Clarkson performs "My Country 'Tis of Thee," a couple, both Congressional staffers, hold each other and sway softly. "This is so special," the woman says to the man.)
(Beyoncé sings the national anthem.) "Drown out Tree Guy, Beyoncé!"
"That's what this Inauguration's real theme is. Beyoncé."
(At the conclusion of the ceremony, a crowd forms around Tree Guy, who has remained near the top of the fir for the duration. At least nineteen, deeply unamused Capitol Police officers tell rubberneckers to clear the area. "What if he starts dropping branches on you? What if he starts peeing on you? Exactly. Now get out of the way.")
"I spent the last three hours listening to this clown call the man I helped elect the antichrist. I'm not going anywhere."
"He ruined everything! You can at least let us watch you arrest him."
"Your protest is ineffective, sir!"
(Tree Guy shakily descends the tree and mounts a ladder the police have provided him. A guy wearing a "Rural Iowans for Obama!" hat shouts at him.) "Get over it, Mitt!" (A chant starts up: "Come on down, Mitt!")
(A former Obama volunteer talks to a friend while police zip-tie Tree Guy, who is still yelling. Watchers sing "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.") "I'm really sleepy, I'm gonna get a nap in before I go out. I would stay in, but I'm unemployed now, so it's like, hey! I'm unemployed! Let's talk!"
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