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Top 9 Of '09 - No. 2: The Obama Inauguration

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 31, 2009 4:20PM

This week, we're counting down the top 9 stories of 2009 according to the Chicagoist staff.

When Barack Obama's election topped our 2008 list, we knew we'd be seeing him in this year's list, if for no other reason than we'd be hitting the inauguration festivities. Indeed, we had five Chicagoist staffers - Tankboy, Lizz, Karl, Kevin, and myself - on the ground in D.C. for the big week and even some press credentials to go with it. It was an amazing chance to be a part of something historic and to bring what we experienced back to you.

We hit the ground running the first day there, scoping out the scene and making arrangements to deal with the chaos that was to follow. We then took in plenty of music, hitting both the "We Are One" concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and The Big Shoulders Ball, a concert sponsored in part by The Hideout and featuring some of our own local rock stars such as Tortoise and Andrew Bird as well as others like Ted Leo.

After a few hours of sleep and too many cups of coffee, we hit up the Swearing In ceremony, trying to grasp both the historical breadth of the moment as well as the physical enormity of the event, sharing the National Mall with hundreds of thousands - even millions - of people. We got a view from both the "cheap seats" and the officially sanctioned press section (Wolf Blitzer had a better view, though). Next was the inaugural balls and we had writers at both the Mid-Atlantic States Ball as well as the Hawaii/Illinois Home States Ball. By 2 a.m., we finally crashed and burned, still in a haze from the whirlwind day, something it would take a few days for us to gain perspective on.

That optimistic haze has since worn off as reality's harsh glare has taken over: this was a job few people would want and even fewer could succeed in. Indeed, Obama has been slammed by both critics and supporters as he's struggled to pull the country out of its economic tailspin, put together a health care reform package that's been so divisive that he's taking heat from both critics on the right and supporters on the left, and dealing with both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were other things as well, such as the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. incident and Beer Summit, his controversial Nobel Peace Prize award (that he actually had no control over) and speech, and criticism of promises gonw unfulfilled. Oh, and that whole Olympics thing.

So as we close out the first year of the Obama presidency, we look to Year Two, likely to bring the passage of his Health Care reform early on as well as - allegedly - the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Will Obama be able to turn the country around and reach the state of harmony he promised during his 2008 campaign or has the luster already worn off to the point that re-election in 2012 will be his tallest task yet? Only time will tell and rest assured we'll be watching.

Previously: No. 9 - Abbate Case Resolved; No. 8 - Rick Bayless Goes Supernova; No. 7 - Oprah, Oprah, Oprah; No. 6: Should We Talk About The Media?; No. 5 - The Beating Death of Derrion Albert; No. 4 - The Blago Saga Continues; No. 3: The Year In Parking Meters