10.50pm: ‘A decade of war is ending, our economy is recovering’
Following what can be best declared as a very clever disclaimer, Obama tackles issues of utmost importance in America’s political discourse – war and economy. Calling this generation of Americans as one ‘tested by crisis’, Obama declares that a decade of war is coming to an end and the country is headed to a rewarding economic recovery. “A decade of war is ending and economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless,” he says adding that progress rides on the shoulders of the middle class in the country.
“When a little girl is born in bleakest corner of the country, she should grow up knowing that she has equal chances at success as anyone else. Because she is born an American,” thunders Obama, his rich patriotic metaphor momentarily turning self-defeating. One is tempted to question, why then would a country, have that ‘bleak’ corners in it?
The President also harps on climate change issues and natural calamities which hit Americans almost every other year in the form of a devastating cyclone ot two. “Such calamities unite us,” he says.
The most intriguing part of his speech, however, is how he announces how America should play the fairy godfather to poor nations – like in Asia or Africa. “We should be the cornerstone of alliances between nations across the world. Who else but the most powerful nation in the world will help other democracies get freedom. We should be a source of hope for the poor, sick, marginalised,” he declares. While there is little doubt that the ‘poor, sick and marginalised’ throng Asia and Africa, you need nauseating audacity to declare yourself a savior in the terms Obama did in this particular speech. We hope he was talking as much about his own country as the rest!
And yes, if you have missed it, he will work equally hard to ensure that his ‘gay brothers and sisters’ get equal rights!
10.40pm: Obama stuns with his signature ‘America is great’ flourish
Barack Obama takes to the stage and lived fairly up to the expectations of a speech that addresses the future of the nation, the challenges and growing disappointment in the country over a struggling economy.
“Each time we gather here each time we gather, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our constitution. We are not people bound by colours of skin, tenacity of faith… What makes us America is our belief in the founding principle of our constitution, that all men are equal and have equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” he sys.
However, he quickly follows up the lofty nationalistic rhetoric with a sharp message that it can’t be just the government which will cure the country of all its ills.
“These principles are self evident but not self executing, we must realise. God has given us freedom, but it has to be implemented by us,” says Obama.
Maybe a certain Mr Singh’s speech writer should take note, if he has to take on the Opposition?
10.18pm: Update: Barack Obama sworn in by Chief Justice of USA, John G Roberts Junior
10.15pm: Update: Joe Biden sworn in by Justice Sotomayor
9.50pm: Obama appears before the crowd to lusty cheering
Obama finally enters the US Capitol platform, greets his colleagues and family to loud, zesty cheering and the official band’s music.
Senator Chuck Schumer starts the inaugural address, tracing the symbolic implications of the Capitol dome and the statue of freedom atop it. He talks about the challenges facing the nation, inside it and outside. “It’s time to renew our collective faith in the future of the United States of America,” says Schumer before yielding the stage to civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, who read out a short prayer for America. Evers seeks blessings for the people of the nation and the armed forces who have secured the country against adversaries.
“We seek your blessings for the President to act courageously but cautiously, prudently but deliberately,” says Evers.
Following the prayer, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is invited to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
9.45pm: Spotlight on Malia and Sasha, Obama’s daughters
The moment Malia and Sasha, the President’s daughters arrive at Capitol Hill, commentators on CNN, seem to be taken in by their poise and of course their flawless wardrobe. As forty-nine-year-old Michelle arrives to take her seat, she is greeted by Malia in a pretty purple overcoat and Sasha who has turned up an a royal blue one. Malia, understandably in a sprightly mood, is seen chatting with friends.
According to CBS news, Obama has to finish a series of paperwork alongside the oath-taking today.
Pres Obama will be signing documents at the Capitol including nominations for Brennan/CIA, Lew/Treasury, Hagel/Defense & Kerry/State.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) January 21, 2013
9.23pm: Michelle Obama arrives at Capitol, followed by Prez
The area overlooking the Capitol looks like it’s straight out of a Hollywood war movie – choked to the gills with people waving mini replicas of the American flag. Michelle Obama is seen arriving at the venue, looking immaculate, what with that stunning black fitted dress and her new hairstyle with fringes. The President arrives soon after and is greeted by Nancy Powell.
Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton is seen arriving, followed by Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter. Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill also reach the venue.
The crowd in front of the Capitol breaks into loud cheers with the arrival of Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z who are slated to sing the national anthem during the ceremony.
9.20pm: Prez convoy leaves for Capitol
Following his spectacular, tear-jerker of a winning speech, Obama’s public oath-taking is something the whole world is looking forward to. From Michelle Obama’s choice of wardrobe to the President’s words, according to a CNN report close to 900,000 people have gathered to watch the President repeat his oath as a President before the public. CNN also reports that the President has left for the venue already. Most cabinet members and other White House staff have already reached the venue before Obama arrives.
Washington: Barack Obama today will repeat for hundreds of thousands of people an oath to “protect and defend” the US Constitution, a day after officially affirming the duties of president in a private White House ceremony.
The day of festivities, parades and fancy dress balls will mark the beginning of Obama’s second four-year term as America’s first black president. The politician who rose improbably from a history as a community organizer in Chicago and a professor of constitutional law to the pinnacle of power faces a nation riven by partisan disunity, a still-weak economy and an array of challenges abroad.
Obama on Monday will take the oath again before the crowd and is expected to follow the recent tradition of walking at least part of the way back to the White House, surrounded by cheers.
In the briefest of ceremonies Sunday, with family gathered in the White House, Obama took the oath of office shortly before noon, as required by law. With his left hand on a family bible held by first lady Michelle Obama, the 44th president raised his right hand and repeated the time-honored words read out by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
The intimate swearing-in met the legal requirement that presidents officially take office on Jan. 20. Because that date fell on a Sunday this year, the traditional public ceremonies surrounding the start of a president’s term were put off to Monday, which coincides this year with the birthday of revered civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Obama made no special remarks at Sunday’s ceremony. “I did it,” he said quietly to his youngest daughter, Sasha, before wrapping her in a hug. The oath went smoothly, unlike four years ago, when Roberts made mistakes while trying to recite the oath from memory and had to do it again with Obama later.
Monday’s events are expected to have less of the effervescence of four years ago, when the 1.8 million people packed into central Washington knew they were witnessing history. Obama is now older, grayer and more entrenched in the politics he once tried rise above. Officials are expecting 500,000 to 700,000 people to turn out Monday.
As he enters his second term, Americans increasingly see Obama as a strong leader, someone who stands up for his beliefs and is able to get things done, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The survey shows him with a 52 percent job approval rating, among the highest rankings since early in his presidency. His personal favorability, 59 percent, has rebounded from a low of 50 percent in the 2012 campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.
When the partying is done on Monday, it’s back to business for a president who is leading a nation that is, perhaps, as divided as at any time since the Civil War 150 years ago. That conflict put down a rebellion by southern states and ended slavery.
In light of the nation’s troubled racial history, Obama’s election to the White House in 2008 as the first black president was seen by many as a turning point. In his first inaugural address, Obama vowed to moderate the partisan anger engulfing the country, but the nation is only more divided four years on.
While Obama convincingly won a second term, the jubilation that surrounded him four years ago is subdued this time around — a reality for second-term presidents. He guided the country through many crushing challenges after taking office in 2009: ending the Iraq war, putting the Afghan war on a course toward U.S. withdrawal and saving the collapsing economy. He won approval for a sweeping health care overhaul. Yet onerous problems remain, and his success in resolving them will define his place in history.
Obama’s Democrats and opposition Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are at political war about gun control and managing the nation’s finances
Shortly before Obama took the oath privately on Sunday, a top White House adviser made the rounds of nationally televised talk shows, saying he was confident Congress would pass comprehensive immigration reform this year, but he sounded less sure about prospects for toughening the nation’s gun laws.
Immigration reform should be easier as Republicans realize their stance on that issue led to an overwhelming Hispanic vote in favor of Obama last year.
On gun control, Plouffe mixed statements of optimism with an acknowledgement of political realities. Republicans in the House and even some Democrats in the Senate have been extremely cautious in addressing the issue. “It’s going to be very, very hard,” Plouffe said on CBS.
Obama also faces bitter confrontation with Republicans over avoiding a default on the nation’s debts, cutting the spiraling federal deficit and preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Obama may have to decide whether to launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, something he is loath to do. Washington and its allies believe Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is intended for producing electricity. Obama has vowed to keep Iran from crossing the line to nuclear-armed status, but insists there is still time for diplomacy. But Israel is pressuring him to take military action sooner rather than later.
Obama will also have to deal with the civil war in Syria, Israel-Palestinian tensions, a chill in relations with Russia and a series of maritime disputes in Asia. The administration has long talked of making a “pivot” toward Asia after the US has directed much of its energy to the Middle East in the past decade.