Three former U.S. Presidents.
One very clear and pointed message.
Let’s just hope Donald Trump was doing what he does best: Watching television, so he could receive it.
On Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. (Perhaps you heard! Perhaps you celebrated!)
A few hours later, in lieu of the typical balls and parties that follow this ceremony, networks aired an event titled Celebrating America.
It featured celebrity cameos, musical acts, appreciation for everyday citizens, a second brief speech from Biden — and the gathering of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
All three former Presidents attended the inauguration, of course, while Trump did not.
They also came together exactly two weeks after a deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, an uprising that enough Democrats and Republicans agreed was incited by Trump that it caused him to be impeached.
For a second time.
“Good evening, America,” Obama said to open his remarks.
“Obviously, there was a personal element to seeing my former vice president become the 46th president, to see Kamala Harris as our first woman vice president.
“But more broadly, I think inaugurations signal a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old.”
Bush echoed this sentiment.
“I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” said the man who gracefully handed over the office to Obama in January 2009.
Trump, it should be noted, became the first president in modern history not to attend his successor’s inauguration.
He flew down to Florida on Wednesday morning, hopefully to never be heard from ever again.
Added Clinton last night:
“So this is an unusual thing — we are both trying to come back to normalcy, deal with totally abnormal challenges, and do what we do best, which is try to make a more perfect union.
“It’s exciting times.”
The ex-Commander-in-Chief was referring here to both the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to rage across the nation, and the disturbing levels of denial, anger and violence exhibited of late by certain segments of one political party.
Along these lines, Obama continued:
“We’ve gotta not just listen to folks we agree with but listen to folks we don’t.”
“One of my fondest memories of the inauguration was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me, and Laura Bush showed Michelle.
“It was a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements, and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us.”
“I think if Americans would love their neighbor like they’d like to be loved themselves, a lot of the division in our society would end,” Bush added.
“That’s what this means,” Clinton said, “It’s a new beginning.”
Obama, Bush and Clinton — who, like the many former Presidents before them, regularly make appearances together at official state functions — all wished Biden success on his presidency to conclude their important message.
For his part, Biden encouraged unity during an inauguration address than Chris Wallace of Fox News said was the best he’s ever heard.
“Today we celebrate the trump not of a candidate but of a case: a case of democracy,” he said on stage.
“The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.
“Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
Later, in words he recited later that same evening, Biden told viewers, attendees and everyone in between:
“We come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have or more than two centuries.
“As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic and set our sights on a nation we know we can be and must be.”