The List: The best and worst of President Joe Biden's Inauguration Day

Andy Downing

Rather than a series of exclusive, donor-friendly balls and galas, the inauguration of President Joe Biden unfolded as a daylong affair yesterday, which the public could take in virtually. Here are a handful of the day’s hits and misses, not all of which unfolded onstage.

Best: Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President

When Harris took the oath of office, she became the first female, first Black and first Indian VP in U.S. history, which is worthy of note no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

Best: Amanda Gorman reads her poem “The Hill We Climb”

The 22-year-old Los Angeles native, whose work we celebrated yesterday, was a clear highlight, reciting a masterful work that acknowledged the challenges not just of recent years, but of systemic oppressions on which this country is built, while still projecting hope for better days to come. 

Worst: Stephen Miller logs back on

Miller, generally credited with helping shape Donald Trump’s child separation policy, took a break frompalling around with white nationalists to launch a new Twitter account, using his first tweet to (predictably) attack Biden’s immigration plans. When the shoe fits…

Best: The Bernie Sanders memes

The Vermont Senator turned up wearing knit mittens and carrying an envelope, as if the inauguration were just one stop in an errand-filled day. But the image really took off when a photographer captured him sitting alone in a folding chair, an image that has since been photoshopped thousands of times, some of whichare collected here.

Best: New Radicals perform “You Get What You Give”

The jokes started soon after it was announced that the rock band would be reforming 22 years after breaking up in 1999, much of it centered on singer Gregg Alexander’s sartorial choices (were bucket hats ever really “in”?) and the lyrics from its biggest hit, “You Get What You Give,” which had some wondering if Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson would also be invited to perform. All of this aside, though, Alexander actually sounded … pretty damn great? Give the performance a watch below.

Worst: Fireworks accompany Katy Perry’s “Firework”

Too obvious.

Best: QAnon implodes

One major subplot to the day was the question of how QAnon conspiracy theorists, who maintained that Trump would remain in power and Biden’s swearing in would never take place, would react. The answer arrived as the noon swearing in neared, with Q forums exploding with disillusioned, confused posts from believers.“It’s obvious now we’ve been had. No plan, no Q, nothing,”wrote one user.

While some doubled down, holding hope that new details would emerge, even Ron Watkins, Q forum moderator and son of Jim Watkins,a man some believe to be Q,posted that it was time for conspirators to move on, writing, “As we enter into the next administration please remember all of the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years,” which is sure to be welcome balm to hardcore believers who have ostracized themselves from friends and family as they’ve fallen deeper into the conspiracy rabbit hole. If you have loved ones who have gravitated toward Q, now is the time to reach out.

Worst: White supremacist groups target disaffected Q believers

If you don’t reach out, the alternative could be ugly, as reports emerged yesterday that white nationalist groups were already posting in Q forums, trying to recruit disaffected believers, using anger at the election results as a bridge. “Heighten their burning hatred of injustice,”wrote one recruiter. (For some, it won’t be much of a leap, consideringwhite supremacy and anti-Semitism are already hard-baked into QAnon.)

Best: The 1776 Project is erased from the White House site

The report, which dropped on MLK Day, andwhich columnist Scott Woods rightly eviscerated this week, has already disappeared from the government site. Elections have consequences, and sometimes those consequences are very good.

Best: John Legend performs “Feeling Good”

Yes, it feels like a requirement for Legend to perform at any Democrat-sanctioned event these days, but there was an undeniable power in hearing the singer take on the Nina Simone song just a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Memorial. Give it a watch below.


President Joe Biden at the inauguration