Monica Hesse: History Shows that Presidents Have a Hard Time Recapturing the Glow of the First Oath

Roundup: Media's Take

Monica Hesse is a reporter at The Washington Post.

It’s not like last time, and everywhere you look, someone wants to remind you of that.

Hotel rooms are still available (not like laaaast time) and there will be only two official inaugural balls (not like laaaast time) and nobody is going to wait for hours in a cattle-packed tunnel, waving their purple tickets. (Last time! So much fun!)

The gargantuan platform affixed to the U.S. Capitol has been growing for weeks, but worriers seem convinced that when Barack Obama steps onto it for his second inauguration, it just won’t feel the same.

"No, there isn’t quite the excitement there is with the first one," allows Buffy Cafritz, the Washington doyenne who has hosted inaugural parties since 1984. But then again, "I can’t think of a second inauguration that was as exciting as the first," she says. "You know the man. You know his policies. It’s normal."

Over at the Presidential Inaugural Committee headquarters, chief executive officer Steve Kerrigan argues that the second time around is equally wonderful — just different. Those two balls will hold nearly as many people as the 10 balls did last inauguration, he explains patiently. "We’re almost doubling the size of the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball."

But still there’s this irritating perception that it’s all a setup to a letdown. It’s one we’ve been struggling with since the beginning of our country: The meaning of the second inauguration. How to summon the energy to do it all again.

Once more (with feeling)... 

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