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Going live at the Ed Sullivan theater after the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, Stephen Colbert made a declaration to his viewers: “Well, you did it. You survived the last four years and your reward, a shiny, new, old President.”
He referred to the day’s events as a “joyful occasion” and said that he cried a lot. “It was extremely emotional.” Colbert said that he felt “enormous relief” watching the inauguration and realized how worried he has been for his country over the last four years. Jokingly, he compared the experience to being on a ship in a rough and stormy sea, and finally setting foot upon land.
Colbert has, in the past, pleaded with Republicans to “speak up” against Trump’s false election claims of fraud, chosen not to watch the Republican National Convention due to their failure to address key issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and mused about his hopes for a calmer and “nicer” era, post-Trump.
In his monologue, the late-night host went on to say that the day “felt like a return to normalcy,” even though so much of the day was abnormal because everyone was wearing masks. Referencing how one year ago today the first patient was hospitalized for COVID-19, Colbert expressed his relief that the pandemic will finally be tackled head-on.
“Today we were reality-boarded, and I am here for it,” said Colbert. Pointing to some “potent symbolism” of the day, he pointed out the man whose responsibility it was to disinfect the podium after each speaker.
Colbert talked about how many former Presidents showed their respects – naming the Obamas, Clintons and more — with Trump notably absent from the list. Colbert described Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, as a presidential couple who held hands in a way that didn’t look professionally mandated.
Referencing Biden’s address to the nation for the first time as President, Colbert brought up the fact that he spoke of the Capitol riots and how they will not bring down the country. “Stirring words that I hope the rioters hear on the TV in the prison day room,” said the late-night host.
Colbert also labeled Biden’s call for the nation to come together in unity as “stirring.” The Late Show re-played Biden saying in his speech, “We must meet this moment as the United States of America. We have never failed in America when we acted together.” Colbert made a quip about how Biden must not have seen the movie Cats.
He went on to reference how Biden emphasized his commitment to pour his soul into his role as President. “It’s so nice to have a President with a soul again,” said Colbert.
During the inauguration, a star-studded lineup caught the attention from viewers including performers Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. Of the performances, Colbert said, “Lady Gaga sang the national anthem beautifully.”
He brought up the 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman, who recited her original work “The Hill We Climb,” and noted that she really “summed up the challenges facing our country.” Colbert then asked, “How do you repair the past? Have we tried unplugging it and plugging it back in? Because that works with almost everything else.”
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