By Al Kamen
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The first sign of this historic presidential transition occurred at 12:01 p.m., even minutes before Barack Obama was sworn into office. The official White House Web site got a major face-lift.

Out were biographies of Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney. In were biographies of Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.

Out were photographs of Barney and Miss Beazley. In was video of Obama's whistle-stop train tour to Washington.

"Change has come to America," screamed a headline next to a formal portrait of Obama on the site, WhiteHouse.gov.

The new Web site contains much of the same historical information as it did under President Bush: details of Camp David, Air Force One and the Oval Office, biographies of past presidents and first ladies, information on White House tours.

But it now has Obama's agenda on 24 subjects, which looks to have been copied from the Obama transition team's site, Change.gov.

The sites for federal agencies, meanwhile, were changed yesterday. The blue background of the Labor Department's site changed in tone, while the State Department's Web site removed the photograph of Condoleezza Rice and posted secretary-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton's picture from her Senate confirmation hearing.

Read and Weep

Eight years ago, the punditocracy, with some liberal grumbling about tax cuts and a few Justice Department appointments, wrote with a bit of optimism of the prospects of the no-child-left-behind "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush, who had tapped many of his dad's and former president Gerald R. Ford's advisers to help him.

But the satiric left-leaning weekly, the Onion, with its patented cynical parody, blasted away with this Jan. 17, 2001, "news story."

"Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address yesterday that 'our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over,' " the Onion reported.

"My fellow Americans," Bush supposedly said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

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