Barack Hussein Obama will renew his oath of office just before midday today, ceremonially marking the beginning of another four years in the White House without the clouds of economic crisis and war that hovered over his first inauguration.
Crowds that are expected to swell to an estimated 800,000 people have begun assembling on the National Mall in front of the Capitol, eager to witness the start of the president’s second term. Mr. Obama, 51, was formally sworn in during a small private ceremony at the White House residence on Sunday, the date constitutionally mandated for inauguration.
Security in Washington was tight as Mr. Obama, the nation’s first black president, prepared to deliver his second Inaugural Address from the Capitol just after noon. Speaking on the day the nation sets aside to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Obama will take his oath with his hand on two Bibles: one once owned by Dr. King and another once owned by Abraham Lincoln…
Mr. Obama’s motorcade rolled slowly along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol just before 11 a.m., prompting cheers of “Obama!” from crowds lined up along the road. At the same time, members of Mr. Obama’s cabinet began assembling in the bleachers behind the president’s lectern.
Later in the day, the Obamas will lead the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue toward an elaborate reviewing stand constructed in front of the White House. Celebrations are scheduled to continue late into the night at two official inaugural balls in Washington’s sprawling convention center, with performances by musical stars like Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. Beyoncé will sing the national anthem on Monday afternoon.
As people started gathering for the inauguration, some chose to start the day at the monument to Dr. King…
Four years ago, a huge crowd of about 1.8 million people jammed into the grassy area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument as Mr. Obama hailed the choice of “hope over fear.” That day, the new president declared the country to be “in the midst of crisis,” citing the economic collapse that was still unfolding and wars that continued to rage in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“In this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words,” Mr. Obama said in his 18-and-a-half minute speech in 2009. “With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.”
As he delivers his second Inaugural Address, Mr. Obama is presiding over an economy that has improved and warfare that has receded. But the world remains a dangerous place, the economy is still fragile, and many of the gauzy promises of action and progress from his first address have given way to the cold realities of politics and compromise and bitter gridlock.
The New York TIMES, polite as ever, prints that last paragraph without deeper description of a Republican Party that refused to accept that our nation elected its first Black president. The most racist elements in that poor excuse for a political party broke away to form the so-called Tea Party. Like demagogues before them, they lie about patriotism and rebellion as a theme to mask racism and reactionary politics.
I’ve been on that National Mall countless times. Generally to protest the evil cruds in charge of American foreign policy who inevitably resort to force of arms, to death and destruction to satisfy imperial greed. I’ve been there on those missions with upwards of a million and more of my fellow Americans in opposition to the VietNam war.
I’ve been on that National Mall countless times, trying to move this nation forward. Leaving racism behind, leaving institutional segregation and bigotry choking in the dust of history’s march forward. I’ve been there on that mission with upwards of a million and more of my fellow Americans to march behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is an event worth watching. Personally, I don’t do inaugurations. At best they are interim steps in the fight for a better life for all of us who work for a living, for ourselves, our families, our class. Our nation. Good enough.