10:47 am – Brilliant sunshine. Lots of what I call ambient Jewish noise on the two hour wait in line (snaking in and out of the ancillary Congressional buildings.) Sample: "My Mom got these tickets because she fund-raises for pro-Israel candidates! The congressman (from Arizona) was sorry he couldn’t get us DNC tickets, so, like, he got us seats!"
Or: Whoa: Isn’t that Al Franken!
Boos, cries of traitor when Sen. Joe Lieberman appears.
10:51 Elie Wiesel, in a fur cap, has a warm, back patting exchange with Colin Powell (whose entrance, contra Lieberman, was cheered).
11:01 Guy with a National Educators of America woolen cap who seems connected (dined with the Shrivers last night) bshouts out: "Caroline Kennedy – getting appointed tomorrow!" Gary Ackerman, prepare for crow.
11:05 Obama arrives
11:45 Dianne Feinstein working it as the MC
11:50 Rick Warren recite the Shema (in English)
11:59 Itzhak Perlman and a bunch of other musical bigs perform an original score from the guy who came up with the Star Wars music
12:07 President Obama speaks
Ami took over after my battery died, just after 11 – thank goodness for old fashioned pen and ink.
Here are some further notes:
Jimmy Carter gets big applause; so do the Clintons. Lots of murmurs though when the mega-screen show the three former presidents and their wives backstage: warm greetings between the elder Bushes and the Clintons and then the elder Bushes and the Carters – but the Carters and Clintons cold-shoulder one another. I hate to go all Dowd on my reporting but what’s that about? My monomaniacal tendencies lead me to wonder if it has to do with the Clintons’ unapologetic pro-Israelism.
Rick Warren not only recited the Shema, but he used the Jewish translation, I’m fairly sure. Christian versions don’t have quite the same sequence, "The Lord is our God, the Lord is One."
"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers."
Interesting emphasis on non-believers – Bush, of course, has spoken of the freedom not to believe, but – as far as I can recall – only when he extemporizes; I can’t recall it being in a speech. And Mitt Romney’s speech a year or so ago that was supposed to mainstream his Mormonism only described varieties of belief, for which he got pummelled.
Obama has in the past emphasized outreach with one hand and a fist with the other in explaining how he would deal with moderate Muslims and Islamists. Nice summing up in his speech:
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.