Watching the inauguration on television, I found myself feeling an enormous wave of relief at seeing George Bush rising by government helicopter, and drifting slowly away, like a balloon cut loose, for the (mercifully) last time.
The live crowd appears to have experienced a similar catharsis.
Garrison Keillor, who was actually on the mall, noted that Bush’s helicopter ascent into the heavens proved to be a potent moment for those present:
The Bushes went up the stairs, turned, waved and disappeared into the cabin, and people [watching a big screen] started to cheer in earnest. When the blades started turning, the cheering got louder, and when the chopper lifted up above the Capitol and we saw it in the sky heading for the airport, a million jubilant people waved and hollered for all they were worth. It was the most genuine, spontaneous, universal moment of the day. It was like watching the ice go out on the river.