Obama takes oath of office, but this time inauguration crowds aren’t ecstatic

 

Washington

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, took the official oath of office for a second term in a quiet ceremony inside the Blue Room of the White House shortly before noon, as final preparations got under way at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue for tomorrow’s public inauguration festivities.

The two-step induction is a quirk of the Constitution which states that a president’s term ends at noon on 20 January after an election year.  Whenever that falls on a Sunday the swearing-in procedures have to be gone through twice so all the Monday pomp and palaver of the public inauguration on the steps of the US Capitol followed by the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue can go ahead as usual.

Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the oath of office as he will again tomorrow when President Obama will lay his hand on two Bibles, one that belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the other to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. “The movements they represent are the only reason that it’s possible for me to be inaugurated,” Mr Obama said in a special inauguration video released last night.

While for jubilant Democrats this is about toasting their candidate and taking a quick turn on the dance floor at one of Washington’s inauguration balls, the weightier business comes with Mr Obama’s inaugural address to assembled dignitaries on the steps of Congress and the roughly 600,000 who will cram into the Mall.

He will not see on those faces the same thrill of anticipation as when he took office for the first time four years ago. By their very nature, second-term inaugurations never inspire quite the same excitement. “For a lot of people, this is kind of old hat,” said Russell Riley, a presidential speech analyst at the University of Virginia. “The newness and excitement around the president’s first history-making inauguration have given way to time-worn political reality.”

The President is likely to sketch out his main domestic policy goals for the coming four years with emphasis on topics such as gun control, immigration reform and climate change, and to make reference to America’s challenges abroad.  His foreign crisis in-tray is already spilling over with the ongoing Iran stand-off and crises in Syria, Mali and Algeria.

If Mr Obama highlights bipartisan co-operation, he runs the risk of reminding his audience of how passionately he rehearsed the same themes after his first election only to discover that, while hope and change work well as campaign slogans, the realities in Washington are harsher.

He begins his second term both battered and encouraged. His first term was marked by the worst economic crisis experienced by America since the Great Depression, from which the country is slowly excavating itself, and repeated clashes with Republicans who reprimanded him by taking control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.

Yet there are reasons also for confidence. He did, after all dispatch Mitt Romney more decisively than most had expected. He has been winning recent skirmishes over raising taxes and his standing with the public has risen. A Pew Research survey this weekend shows him with a 52 per cent job-approval rating, among the highest rankings since early in his presidency.

From the in-tray: policy goals

Gun control

Having announced the most comprehensive set of gun control measures in a generation, Mr Obama is under pressure to make good on his promises.

Immigration

Mr Obama will be attempting to seek common ground with Republicans on beefing up border security, while giving those already in the US illegally a path to citizenship.

Climate change

The President promised to make it a priority in his second term, but analysts say the chances of significant action remain slim.

Foreign policy

The ongoing Iran stand-off, the conflict in Syria and Mali, and recent events in Algeria, are all waiting for responses in Mr Obama’s second term in-tray.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum