'Special Report' Panel on President Obama's Inauguration

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from January 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence, the knowledge that god calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, HOST: President Obama, the 44th president of the United States.

Now some analytical observations about this day from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer — FOX News contributors all.

Generically, your thoughts — Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it was a day for the man and the moment, and the import of this event, less than 50 years after a dreamer at the other end of the mall calls for justice for a minority that had been scorned and deprived of citizenship.

Less than half a century later, the United States, in a remarkable way, reforms itself, repents, and even re-imagines itself so that a member of that minority becomes the president is absolutely extraordinary.

BAIER: I just want to point out as you continue—this is the end of the parade, the Nasa astronaut crew and Nasa Lunar Electric Rover. Please continue. I just wanted to make sure our viewers saw that.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's hard to compete with a guy in a moon suit and flag.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: I think it's a girl, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: The other part is that, given the moment, the speech, I think, could never live up to that standard. And it didn't.

I was rather disappointed. I thought it was a prosaic and pedestrian speech, which is remarkable given Obama's eloquence and the way he gave the speech four years ago at the Democratic convention in which he emerged lurched out of nowhere, the speech of he gave after the Iowa caucus.

It is almost as if he is a man who decides that the day for inspiration and soaring rhetoric and poetry is over. Tomorrow he has to make choices and disappoint the people. So he's preparing us. I'm giving it the best gloss, that he wanted a prosaic speech rather than a soaring one, of which he is capable.

But it is a mediocre one, and what we will remember the man and the hour.

BAIER: Juan, as we look at the president and the first lady leaving the review stand, your thoughts? You at one point got emotional about this day earlier today. It is pretty overwhelming when you think about it.

WILLIAMS: For me, Barack Obama's speech is not what really struck me emotionally. It was Reverend Lowery, who is a true veteran of the civil rights era and the civil rights movement.

And when he was using language from to "Lift Every Voice, and Sing," some refer to it as a Negro national anthem, and talking about silent tears and the road that has been trod, I just thought what an amazing moment, and what a fulfilling thing for the 87-year-old man Lowery to see this moment become possible.

Charles spoke about this moment, and I think the moment is what carries him. So much of what President Obama now said, it seems to me, was speaking to the larger audience. He was not speaking as the black president. He was speaking as the president of the United States, and he is speaking to the world. And, at some point, challenging President Bush. For example, challenging him on the whole idea of unity and purpose as opposed to conflict and discord, saying we're ready to lead once more, time to remake America.

Those are things that I think could have incited some of the partisanship that he decried.

BAIER: This is an amazing shot, too — the new first family now entering their new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the first time.

WILLIAMS: It's that image of a black family is kind of like Cosby on steroids. You got a strong father who loves his wife and his kids. And what a contradiction to all those rappers and gangster people who populate, in my opinion, and desecrate the TV channels.

BAIER: And the other thing is, of course, and Juan, I have heard you say this, too — they are not just great role models for blacks but for whites as well. An intact family with two kids the obviously care about and spend a lot of time with.

I thought it was a big day and a small speech. The events that I thought were the most watchable and stirring — the Obamas and the Bushes posing for that picture outside the White House — obviously, the swearing in itself, which was kind of botched.

And then the Obamas walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. I have seen other presidents and first ladies walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I thought they did it better. It was really good.

There was a confused part of the speech. He kept talking about a new era and new age. And what are going to be the big elements of it? Hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism. That's the old age. I like that old age and I like that, but it isn't a new age.

WILLIAMS: He picked up on echoes JFK and Ronald Reagan, and with JFK saying it's time for sacrifice and responsibility, and with Reagan where Reagan said government was too big, he said government is not too big or too small. It just has to work.

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