Photo Slideshow: Governor Deval Patrick's 2nd Inauguration

Inauguration isn't just a relatively thrilling circus that the Statehouse hosts once every four years. It's also the most superficial and elaborate production that the legislature acts in – and, as Beacon Hill observers are aware, these are some of the most splendid actors in the commonwealth, skilled enough to nurture token news items into weeks of political theater.

We sat in the the press balcony, snapping pics, playing “Look At That Comb-Over,” and analogizing. More than a circus or stage show, yesterday the House floor resembled a high school locker room without the sweat and towels, complete with boorish cheering, outcasts keeping to themselves, and losers brown-nosing the team heroes. Nothing new, really.

With the students at their desks, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray delivered an inspired community-minded speech. He doesn't hit the high notes like Governor Deval Patrick, but the former Worcester mayor's anecdote about a struggling mom earned the first genuine applause of the day. The speech was exceptionally honest, and perhaps one of the lieutenant governor's finest moments in state government.

Murray set the perfect volley for the governor to pitch a daring declaration: “Being first in the nation is a good start – being first in the world is where we're headed.” Patrick learned to own the podium in his recent race, and he carried that gusto into his inaugural with an ambiguous but powerful address. Let the pundits analyze; I say it was an exciting day – especially the part when everybody got to eat cake.

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