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
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little