I wasn't there, but I was able to watch the ceremony and the speech with a group of friends and colleagues, in the office at work (and no, this is not my office - this is the Executive Director's office).
History can be the only judge of the speech's greatness, but it sure sounded good to me. Here are some snippets that I jotted down as he delivered it:
"...our collective failure to make hard choices." - This was in the context of talking about the economy, and sounds consistent with the overall theme of service and sacrifice that he talked about in the days leading up to the inauguration.
"the time has come to set aside childish things..." - I interpet this to be a sign that Obama will sincerely make every attempt to govern from the center, and isolate the wingnuts who have come to dominate the discussion at both ends of the political spectrum. But not just the wingnuts, but also to a certain degree the leaders of his own party, some of whom would like nothing more than to set aside the urgent issues of the day and proceed with indictments and hearings against the previous Administration. Until this ruthless cycle of destructive politics comes to an end, this nation will never move forward; our political discourse will remain in the gutter. It may be a task beyond the abilities of one man to handle. I hope he makes an effort.
"the question is not whether our government is too big or too small but whether it works..." - Interestingly, that really does not sound so different to me than Ronald Reagan's famous proclamation, "government is the problem..."
The reactions have been wide and varied - some left bloggers I read thought it was mediocre, some right bloggers I read were impressed and hopeful. There are many whose hopes are so high that they can't possibly be met. And of course, there remains a substantial element out there of people who are so stricken with Obama Derangement Syndrome that every word out of his mouth represents an affront to the Republic.
I look forward to watching how it all plays out.