Millions of Americans took time on Tuesday to witness the inauguration of President Barrack Obama - a man who, only a couple of generations ago would not, as he noted in his inaugural address, have been served at many restaurants on account of his race. For a moment, at least, the nation set aside partisanship and reveled in the historic moment.
Time very quickly will reveal whether Obama really is a man of the left, as his record would indicate, or if he's really more of a pragmatist who moved left when it was expedient and moved to the center when it also was expedient.
There have been many indications that the reality of taking office already is engendering pragmatism among Obama-ites, notably in regard to national security. Eric Holder, the president's liberal nominee for attorney general, has conceded that the president does in fact have the authority to order warrantless wiretaps in order to hunt down terrorists and spies. But then there are Cabinet nominations, such as Carol Browner to Energy, that all but genuflect to the hard left of the Democratic Party.
In the short term, Obama will enjoy a honeymoon the likes of which has not been seen since Ronald Reagan's. He'll likely get his way, mostly, with Congress, and Republicans will have to come to terms with the notion of getting steamrolled on Capitol Hill.
And Republicans, as the opposition party, will need to take care to wage their opposition substantively and responsibly. But if the ability to fight terrorists is at stake, the GOP should go to the political mat.
All of that, however, can wait a bit. Right now, the nation should look with satisfaction at the fact that we've had a peaceful transition, to a president who upon the nation's founding would have been considered three-fifths of a person. The Founders hoped that the new nation would eventually reach its aspiration that "all men are created equal." This week it did not seem at all audacious to see that hope realized.