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.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
i100
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

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

2nd Line server support - Microsoft certified

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, Adobe, ...

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?