I have worked in Washington, D.C., and I can vouch for the grandness of the National Mall as an impressive expanse. Suffice to say that standing in that trodden grass during a Regina Spektor concert or the traditional Fourth of July fireworks display, what looks like a relatively modest group of people on TV is always in reality a sizeable mass of humanity ambling around this misleadingly large space. When I saw the shots of the millions of people massed between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, I knew, if I didn’t already a thousand times over, that this inauguration was something special.

First, let’s get the conspiracy theory out of the way: John Roberts, how could you? I mean, everyone makes mistakes, and this was certainly a grand stage that should induce some nervousness, but to incorrectly READ the oath of office for the President of the United States? Boo I say.

The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court misplaced the word “faithfully” in the oath, saying “…that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully…” instead of the correct “…I will execute faithfully the office of President of the United States…” Boo.

The liberal blogosphere, as it is wont to do, lit up with conspiracy theories that Roberts intentionally messed up the oath because he’s a Bush appointee and Obama voted against his high court confirmation as a senator. That’s hogwash, of course, spit out by the hogwashiest of outlets; equally ludicrous was the initial Associated Press report that suggested Obama was searching for the right words and Roberts “helped” him back on track, or Chris Wallace of FOX News saying he didn’t think Obama actually was the president after the mix-up.

The scene was, rather, quite a wonderful moment of humanity between two very powerful people, proving that even a single sentence can sometimes be tricky. I particularly admire the seriousness of the Obama administration and the humility of John Roberts to re-administer the oath in the White House the day after the inauguration just to be doubly sure that Constitutional requirements were well taken care of. Our government has for too long been loathe to admit any kind of failing, substituting brazenness for seriousness in situations big and small, and this is a welcome departure from that sad legacy.

As for the rest – Michelle Obama looked fantastic in her glowing Isabel Toledo getup and is clearly angling, at least in part, to carry on the legacy of Jackie Kennedy. And why not? It’s been almost 50 years since we had someone young, hip and beautiful to stand out from the Brooks Brothers, button-down crowd in D.C.

Malia and Sasha seemed to be loving every minute of the pomp and circumstance, even armed with the knowledge that they’ll be back to the school routine in short order. It’s certainly not a prerequisite of the presidency, but I do like the return of younger children to the First Family. Somehow, the girls make me feel that some real-world perspective will leak in, the truth from the mouths of babes, whether via the latest Jonas Brothers gossip or the tell-it-to-your-parents frankness that only the young possess.

Lastly, to the man of the hour. Barack Obama sure looked presidential, didn’t he? I’m not buying this “no-drama Obama” slogan of stoic reserve, but facing this economic meltdown and the rehabilitation of the American Dream on a global scale, he injected the moment with the right amount of excitement and responsibility.

On a day where Old Washington really did look old – Senator Ted Kennedy, 76, had a seizure at a luncheon and his friend Sen. Robert Byrd, 91, was reportedly so emotional at the scene that he left as well, Bush looked a hundred years removed from taking his oath, Bill Clinton had turned into the spitting image of the white-haired politico fogeys he swept aside when he played his sax on “Arsenio Hall,” Dick Cheney in his wheelchair was a white cat away from the picture-perfect decrepit Bond villain – Obama looked ready for the desk in the Oval Office, one part smiling, glamorous Hollywood faux-futuristic movie president and one part battle-hardened executive staring grimly at the mess on his new shoes.

The numbers I saw for the day estimated the crowd at 1.8 million. That seems a little lean from my armchair perspective, but it is almost double the number that attended Clinton’s inauguration and nearly quadruple the number that attended Bush’s in 2001 (and how many were there to throw eggs at the motorcade?). In a time where nobody has any money to spare, that crowd is a remarkable feat, and I hope it speaks not just to an eagerness to celebrate what has come to pass, but readiness to support the work that lies ahead.