At 4 a.m., local time, President Obama was sworn in. My son and I set our alarm to get up and watch, as did many of the students in the class. For the Gruntleds, this was an exhilarating moment.
At 1 p.m., local time, the class all assembled at the Manning Bar in the student union of the University of Sydney. This is deep vacation time in Australia, the equivalent of the week before Labor Day in the U.S. Nonetheless, the U.S. Studies Centre of the Uni of Sydney sponsored a rebroadcast of the Inauguration. The bar theater, which held several hundred, was standing room only.
Before the big event the Centre showed the short films they had received in a contest about the U.S. election. These were mostly funny, generally pro-Obama, and pretty well done. The winner, a film about the author's obsession with the election, won him and a friend a trip to Washington for the festivities.
The crowd then watched attentively from the swearing-in of Vice-President Biden through the departure of former president Bush in the helicopter. The mood in the room ranged from pleased to elated. The greatest applause came when Pres. Obama completed the oath and when he was introduced by Sen. Feinstein as the 44th President of the United States. When the U.S. national anthem played, about dozen Americans stood, hand on heart.
When we asked a well-informed Australian political figure what the country thought about the U.S. election, he offered that Obama probably could have been elected Prime Minister of Australia. I am sure there are anti-Obama Australians, but we have yet to meet one. Even avowed members of the coalition of conservative parties here, the Liberals and Nationals, who were strongly connected with Pres. Bush, seem pleased with Obama's election. Or if not pleased, then relieved.
The third loudest applause of the afternoon at the University of Sydney: when President Bush's helicopter flew away.