President-elect Barack Obama doesn’t take the oath of office until Tuesday, but the nation’s capital already feels like the site of the biggest, most expensive political pep rally for America ever.
Strolling along the National Mall on Saturday afternoon near the Lincoln Memorial – the location of Sunday’s “We Are One” all-star show featuring Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Usher, Mary J. Blige, U2, John Legend and others – the unmistakable strains of The Boss’ “The Rising” rose up into the frigid grey sky.
“Could it be? Really?” Yes, it was. Standing center stage, his cheeks beet red, his windburned face hidden behind reflective shades and the iconic monument framing him, The Boss did half a dozen mid-day runs through his rousing call-to-arms anthem, “The Rising.” Backed by a shivering gospel choir, Springsteen joked with the sparse rubber-necking crowd about the frigid temperatures between takes and was later joined by folk icon Pete Seeger for a duet on “This Land is Your Land.”
Minutes later, behind the monument, the members of U2 emerged from a pair of black SUV’s for their soundcheck. It was all a bit surreal in a town where politicians are used to being the rock stars. But on the eve of the election of the first post Baby Boom president, maybe it was a glimpse of what the next four years might be like.
Or at least the next four days.