Pres. Obama's Second Inaugural

Good evening everybody and welcome to In the News.  Glad you could be with us again today.  We are coming to you on Tuesday January 22nd, a day after President Obama was inaugurated for a second term as President.  And we want to talk a little bit about the inauguration that happened yesterday.  What the President said in his address and the plans that he has for the country during his second term.  He outlined his vision and where he would like to see us go over the next 4 years.  And so we’d like to analyze the address, and play you some clips of some of the more memorable parts of the speech. 

The President was sworn in officially the day before, on Sunday, in a private ceremony.  He was accompanied only by the First Lady and their daughters.  And of course by Chief Justice John Roberts who administered the Oath of Office.  It was necessary for the Oath to be taken that day because the Constitution requires it.

But it was then repeated the next day for the throngs of revelers that had gathered on the National mall and around the country watching on TV.  The crowd in Washington was noticeably smaller than it was 4 years ago.  And it was a little more restrained. It wasn’t as jubilant or as raucous as it was in 2009.  Four years ago nearly 2 million people gathered to watch the first inauguration of President Obama.  It was the largest crowd ever for a Presidential Inauguration.  This year’s crowd was somewhere in the neighborhood of 600,000 people. 

There was an invocation given by Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers.  There were performances by James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce who sang America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee, and the National Anthem respectively.  It was a ceremony smaller in scale than it was 4 years ago but by all measures, it was planned well and went off without a hitch.

The President’s address itself lasted about 20 minutes.  It was an address that many felt was unapologetically liberal.  It was an address that laid out a vision that was definitely progressive, and also laid out the fact that the President was going to be assertive about pursuing it.  The President seemed to me to be a little more comfortable than he was 4 years ago.  Maybe a little more empowered?  He seemed a little wiser, a little bit more confident.  A little more secure in his role.

Reaction from both the right and the left echoed the same sentiment.  That the President was declaring that the next 4 years would be a time of active progressivism.  He spoke about confronting our problems together as one nation, with input and collective action from both public and private enterprise.  Let’s listen to an extended of the President now. 

The President spoke about the need to preserve society’s safety net for those who are most vulnerable.  And specifically he mentioned the major entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  He said the commitments that these programs make “do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”  Directly challenging Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan’s assertion during the Campaign that America is becoming a nation of takers.

And in a very interesting passage on the use of American military power, the President spoke about engaging with our enemies.  Let’s listen to that clip.  So the President seemed to be saying there that engagement rather than military conflict was going to be the first option in his administration. 

The President also vowed to confront Climate Change, which many were surprised to hear in his inauguration address.  He said that while some may dispute “the overwhelming judgment of science, none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

And he vowed to put us on a path toward sustainable energy sources. And then he concluded with a call on Republicans to end their practice of obstructionism.  In what I thought was the most memorable part of the speech, he said that not getting 100% of what we want should not prevent us from acting on the important issues facing us all.  Let’s listen to that clip.

So that was the President’s address.  Now what exactly does that mean?  Well it seems that the President is going be aggressive in the pursuit of his agenda this term.  He feels a little more confident, a little more determined to accomplish the tasks from his first term that are as of yet, unfinished.  He feels he has the support of the people and that public sentiment is behind him.

One thing he didn’t mention though and disappointed me a little was jobs.  And for that matter we’ve heard very little in recent weeks from both parties about the issue.  I’m sure that it’s at the forefront of every elected official’s mind.  But it should really be a subject that is spoken about and worked on every day. 

Of all the unfinished tasks from the first term, this is one of the most vital.  Unemployment is still 7.7%.  Millions are still out of work.  As a matter of fact, the reason or unemployment rate is not even higher is because there are many millions of people who are so discouraged that they have simply given up looking for work.  And so they’re not counted in those statistics.  And so there has to be a return to this conversation.  Because the vibrancy of our economy is what makes all of our other goals (better education, healthy entitlement programs, etc.) attainable. 

But for now we will wait and see how the pressing issues before us play out.  Our fiscal issues, jobs, immigration, gun control.  They’re all issues that have come together to challenge us at the same time it seems.    The President said in his address that he has no doubt that we can seize this moment, so long as we seize it together.  Over the next several months we’ll see if we are able to do that. 

Several of these issues are going to need to be acted upon very soon.  So we’re going to be able to tell fairly quickly how this second term is going to play out.   Whether we’re going to begin finding solutions to some of these big problems or whether it’s going to be business as usual in Washington D.C.  And as always we’ll be here to bring the developments to you, and to talk about what they mean to you and your families. 

That’s our show for tonight.  Thanks for being with us everybody.  Remember that you can send your comments in to comments@itnshow.com.  That’s comments@itnshow.com.  Include your name and town and we’ll read your comment on the air.  Thanks for being with us everyone.  We’ll see you next time.  Good night.