The Man, The Message And The Moment
By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
- THE MESSAGE: Invoking the nation's founding values, President Obama marked the start of his second term yesterday with a sweeping call for "collective action" to confront the economic and social challenges of America's present and future, ABC's Devin Dwyer and Mary Bruce note. "That is our generation's task, to make these words, these rights, these values - of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - real for every American," Obama said in an inaugural address delivered from the west front of the U.S. Capitol. "Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time," he said, giving nod to the yawning partisan divide. "But it does require us to act in our time." The call to action, on the eve of what's shaping up to be another contentious term with Republicans and Congress, aimed to reset the tone of debate in Washington and turn the page on the political battles of the past.
- THE MOMENT: Hundreds of thousands packed the National Mall in chilly 40-degree temperatures and brisk wind to hear Obama's remarks and witness the ceremonial swearing-in. While the crowds were smaller than four years ago, the U.S. Park Police said the Mall reached capacity and was closed before Obama took the podium. Shortly before the address, Obama placed his left hand on the stacked personal Bibles belonging to President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and raised his right to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. ABC's Avery Miller reported that later both Obama and Chief Justice Roberts signed the King bible at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family.
- THE MAN: After a bruising campaign, and unusually contentious post-election period, President Obama was clearly attempting to savor his second and final Inauguration Day. As he walked off the inaugural platform on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, Obama turned and paused to look out at the crowd on the National Mall, even as his family and other guests continued ahead without him. "I want to take a look one more time," Obama was heard saying. "I'm not going to see this again."
ABC'S RICK KLEIN: Call it partisan, or call it post-post-partisan. Call it progressive, or liberal, or call it where this president has really been all along. Or just call it Obama, a man and a brand retooled and replenished for a second term. President Obama's second inaugural was a call to action for his legions of supporters, the army amassed on the Mall and in front of mobile devices at home and work across the nation. This was a bold speech, startling in its implications if not in its policy prescriptions. Above all it was an address that spoke to a changing America, a nation the president successfully made his own twice, but has not yet been able to move into legislative debates. The message to members of Congress who derive their power from different sources: You'll have reason to fear the Obama army, even as the president himself becomes a lame duck.
ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: Vice President Joe Biden officially kicked off his second term yesterday, but he could be gearing up for another run at the presidency pretty soon. Over Inauguration weekend, Biden squeezed in some time with leaders from three key battleground states - Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina - and even accidentally referred to himself as "president" during an Iowa State event. And dating back to his months on the campaign trail, the vice president has made overt efforts to laud the Hispanic community for their contributions and the power they'll hold in the country down the road. So keep the 2016 crystal ball ready because judging by the clues he dropped this weekend, Biden could start laying the groundwork for his third run for the White House.
ABC'S SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Yesterday the president, and many who traveled to Washington DC to see his second inauguration, celebrated. Today, everyone is back to work. Will the bipartisan congratulations from the other side of the aisle-including Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and former vice presidential candidate and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan-last longer so they can work together, or will it be fleeting? The president's tone in his address Monday was progressive, mentioning climate change and for the first time ever gay rights. He even stressed we are not a country of "takers," a topic that came up throughout the 2012 campaign. Will this make Republicans less likely to work with him or did yesterday's messages of best wishes signal a new start? I'm skeptical, but without some compromise and bipartisanship how will anything get done over the next four years? Americans are already fed up with the lack of compromise in Washington, DC and we all know there is much work to be done. Let's hope yesterday marks a fresh start for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and the White House.
IT'S NOT OVER YET… ABC News and Yahoo! News will stream a special post-inaugural show "After: The Second Inauguration of President Barack Obama" on Tuesday at 10:00a.m.ET, anchored by ABC News' Dan Kloeffler and Yahoo! News' Phoebe Connelly.
BUSY DAY FOR THE PRESIDENT. This morning President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Biden attend the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral. The service comes just weeks after the Cathedral announced it would celebrate same-sex marriages. As ABC's Ann Compton notes, the Kansas preacher for this morning's sermon has "wrestled throughout his Christian life with the question of how to interpret biblical writings on homosexuality: Are they time-bound prohibitions, or God's eternal word?" according to a Huffington Post profile.
ABC's Mary Bruce reports that this evening the president and first lady attend the Staff Inaugural Ball at the Washington DC Convention Center. Lady Gaga is reportedly among the list of performers.
OBAMA MAKES HISTORY BY TALKING ABOUT GAY RIGHTS. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: President Obama made history in his inaugural address today mentioning the word "gay" and the issue of gay rights for the first time in a speech at the presidential swearing in. "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said in his address on the Capitol steps after his swearing in. Obama also mentioned the word Stonewall when citing milestones of the civil right struggle. … Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest gay rights organizations, applauded the president mentioning gay rights. "We were honored that the president included Stonewall among the historic events in American history that have made our union stronger," Griffin said. http://abcn.ws/UMkKbH
OBAMA'S SPEECH: A PROGRESSIVE DOCTRINE. Analysis from ABC's Rick Klein: This was no centrist conciliator. It was the speech of a committed, unapologetic progressive, an Obama doctrine for domestic policy that included concrete commitments in areas he made little progress on over his first four years. Above all, he was speaking to a changing America-the nation that propelled him to a second term, and whose voices he will need to channel to be effective over the next four years. "My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it - so long as we seize it together," the president declared. That word "together" appeared seven times in the president's speech. He used the phrase, "we, the people" five times. Notably, the president said "our time" five times. It was a clear signal that Obama is not satisfied with the frustrations that marked his first term, and that he is cognizant of his opportunity at this moment. http://abcn.ws/Tbd99y
THE 7 1/2 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INAUGURATION. A presidential inauguration is long, and not everyone has time to watch the whole thing. Here's what you need to know: Beyonce sang the national anthem, Kelly Clarkson sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," President Obama talked about gay rights, Vice President Joe Biden made jokes and shook hands with people, Richard Blanco read a poem, the Obamas walked around outside their limo, House Speaker John Boehner said, "Godspeed," and the First Daughters were there. Here are the video highlights: http://abcn.ws/TceAEA
2016 LIKE ITS TODAY: BIDEN DROPS HINTS ABOUT 2016. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports: On Saturday, Biden attended the State Society of Iowa "First in the National Celebration" where he slipped up and referred to himself as the president instead of as the V.P. "I'm proud to be president of the United States, but I am prouder to be…" Biden said as the crowd started to laugh and cheer. "I'm proud to be vice president of the United States but I am prouder to be Barack Obama, President Barack Obama's vice president." It wasn't just the state of Iowa that he seemed to be courting. For his official swearing in at the Naval Observatory on Sunday, Biden invited members of two other early primary states - New Hampshire and South Carolina. Newly elected Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and other New Hampshire officials attended, and according to a pool report, and a seat at the ceremony was reserved for South Carolina Democratic Party chair Dick Harpootlian. http://abcn.ws/TeKFeT
OBAMA DIGS AT 'NAME CALLING,' PARTISANSHIP. Obama's first term will be remembered for a lot of things - health-care reform and the killing of Osama bin Laden, to be sure-but also a culture of partisan intransigence in Washington and a toxic, anger-driven politics beyond it. Here's Obama's call to action and civility, from his speech as prepared for delivery: "For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, we must act knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today's victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall." http://abcn.ws/10A15k6
… AND TALKS ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING. President Obama's inauguration speech was broad, as such addresses tend to be, but he got specific when it came to climate change. In his second inaugural address, the president mentioned the recent wave of severe weather that some have linked to global warming. From his address, as prepared for delivery: "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it." http://abcn.ws/VVFwaI
CURIOUS TIMING FOR TWO CHRISTIE ANNOUNCEMENTS. ABC's Michael Falcone writes: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is often mentioned as a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, sent out two separate announcements. The first from his gubernatorial campaign: "Governor Chris Christie will be visiting the Hilton Newark Airport on Tuesday morning to accept the second major endorsement of his campaign." … The second statement commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. http://abcn.ws/WRxsUu
PHOTO: OBAMA AND MICHELLE'S FIRST (SECOND INAUGURAL) DANCE. http://abcn.ws/WbY9a1
MICHELLE'S DRESS: JASON WU, ROUND TWO. After Michelle Obama wore a dress from the same designer in 2009, ABC's Mary Bruce reports: The First Lady wore a custom Jason Wu ruby colored chiffon and velvet gown with a handmade diamond embellished ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald. She is wearing shoes designed by Jimmy Choo. At the end of the Inaugural festivities, the outfit and accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives. The President and First Lady are dancing to Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," performed by Jennifer Hudson. The Vice President and Dr. Biden will dance to Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You," performed by Jamie Foxx. Hudson and Foxx will perform the first dance song at each of the first and second families' stops-in the Ballroom for the Commander-in-Chief's Ball and on both floors of The Inaugural Ball. http://abcn.ws/XwgBqi
OBAMA THANKS SOLDIERS AT COMMANDER IN CHIEF'S BALL. The president and Michelle Obama made their first stop of the night at the Commander in Chief's ball, where President Obama thanked military servicemembers in the audience as he spoke. "I have no greater honor than being your commander in chief. It's because of you that with honor we were able to end the war in Iraq, because of you that we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, because of you that it's even possible to give Afghans a chance to determine their own destiny," Obama said. A TV screen to Obama's right showed soldiers stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Privates and master sergeants congratulated him on his inauguration. "Every single day we are thinking of you," Obama told them in response. "When you get back home, you're gonna be greeted by a grateful nation, and you're gonna be on our minds tonight and every single night until our mission in Afghanistan is complete." http://abcn.ws/VXpxsQ
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
- ANTI-HAGEL GROUP GOES ON THE AIR WITH TV ADS. Americans for a Strong Defense, a group devoted to squashing former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagels's nomination as the next Secretary of Defense, will announce a multi-state television advertising campaign today. The ad notes the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, then a narrator says: "Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense wants America to back down. An end to our nuclear program. Devastating defense cuts. A weaker country. Call [Senator/s] and tell [him/her/them] to say no to Chuck Hagel - before it's too late." The advertisements will air on broadcast and cable television in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana and North Carolina - and specifically target senators from those states. WATCH: http://bit.ly/142ZD8W
-AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY CALLS OBAMA SPEECH 'HARSHLY IDEOLOGICAL'. The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, a big player during the 2012 election cycle, responded to President Obama's second inaugural address with a statement from the group's president, Tim Phillips."For generations, presidents have used inaugural addresses to unite the nation by reaffirming our democratic traditions and touching on broad aspiration themes. Disappointingly, President Obama chose to deliver a harshly ideological, aggressively partisan speech more appropriate for the campaign trail than for the solemn occasion of his inaugural ceremony. His address read like a liberal laundry list with global warming at the top. Americans have rejected environmental extremism in the past and they will again."
@dickstevenson: Obama's second Inaugural Address and the fierce urgency of now. My take. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/us/politics/obamas-speech-is-urgent-call-for-progressive-values.html …