What a difference one day makes.
Yesterday - sick at home and glued to the TV - I watched as President Hosni Mubarak spoke to his people, speaking as a father to children, pledging to stay in power for the good of his people. He would share some authority with his hand-picked vice president, and he would step down after September elections, but he would not leave immediately. The nation, he said, could not endure a fast dissolution of his dictatorship. The nation had another opinion.
In Tahrir Square Mubarak's speech was projected against a giant white sheet amid seemingly countless throngs of chanting people who'd set up a tent city and committed to staying until the end. I watched and waited as the 82 year old president plowed through paragraph after paragraph of legalisms. He designated committees. He highlighted constitutional changes. He promised punishment for those who killed pro-democracy protestors.
The crowds watched in silence and disbelief before exploding in anger. They waved banners and pumped their fists. They would not tolerate one more day. Even as Mubarak was speaking, some protesters began streaming toward the state media building and the presidential palace where tanks awaited them. The army had held their fire until now, but the nation seemed set for bloodshed. And then today, Mubarak just left - like a rotten apple that had finally fallen to the ground. The weight of history proved too much for the man.
Today they're cheering in Liberation Square, as the Egyptian military has essentially completed a coup against the previous government. Jubilent youth are celebrating their freedom. But no one knows what is next for Egypt. The old boss is gone. Things are different, and for now that's enough.
But only for now.