In 1993, when Bill Clinton was inaugurated, I was living just outside Washington, DC in Takoma Park, MD., working as a writer and editor for an advocacy organization. As the first Democratic president in 12 years, Clinton's election was greatly celebrated by the party faithful. Expectations were high. We hosted about a dozen friends and family members for the event. My mother wrote a letter to friends and family describing her experience, which I think still captures the spiritual experience of attending an inaugural. Click to read it.
Within a few months of Clinton's inaugural, Time placed on its cover, "The Incredibly Shrinking President," depicting Clinton as squandering good will by making too many dumb mistakes and strategic errors. His sloppy and disorganized staff did not properly vet numerous cabinet nominees and focused on extremely controversial and marginal issues like "gays in the military," instituting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which pleased few, not even gays in the military. After a disastrous midterm election in 1994, in which his party lost control of the Congress, he rebuilt his presidency, but in my view, despite his enormous political talents, he never lived up to the grand hopes of those early days.