Monday, Barack Obama was sworn in for a 2nd term as the 44th president of the United States. This was historic on so many levels. It was the first time an African-American was sworn in twice as President of the United States.
President Obama became just the 2nd person in history to take the presidential oath four times. Only FDR had previously taken the oath four times. FDR took four oaths because he was elected four times; two of Obama’s oaths were taken to meet constitutional requirements.
It was also historic because over a million people watched Obama take the oath in person-- the largest crowd ever to watch a president take the oath for his 2nd term. The record attendance for any president’s first term was also set by President Obama in 2009.
Ratings are not in yet, but likely over 30 million people watched it on TV. Millions watched it streamed live on the Internet. Millions more watched videos online.
Republicans conspicuously absent at Obama's 2nd Inauguration
However, this inaugural may have also made history for the number of Congress members who boycotted it. A large number of Republicans did not attend. Some made excuses of “schedule conflicts” while others unabashedly made no excuse.
Neither living past Republican president attended. President George H.W. Bush had a good excuse—he was just released from the hospital but sent his congratulations. George W. Bush, however, is healthy. Perhaps he was busy giving another tax avoidance seminar in the Caymans.
This was also the first time in recent history that the losing candidate did not attend. Mitt Romney not only declined an invitation, but told reporters he would not be watching. Fox News said Monday that it was the “most depressing day in history.”
President Obama's Inaugural Address was historical
Those things will probably make trivial pursuit one day. Real history was made in the president’s address. Not only was it short compared to most inaugural speeches, but it broke new ground surprising everyone including the most experienced analysts.
Breaking with tradition, President Obama’s speech was more prose than poetry. It set forth a powerful vision for the nation, and outlined specific things we need to do to achieve that vision. Even though it was about policies, he laid them out eloquently breaking new ground.
This speech coincided with the birthday of Martin Luther King. Obama has acknowledged that were it not for Dr. King, there would be no President Obama. The President made the connection between our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the struggle for civil rights. But he made the point that those unalienable rights extend to all people:
“We, the people declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King [Dr. King] proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
Equal rights for gay, women, and immigrant Americans mentioned in President's 2nd Inaugural Speech
This is the first time a president spoke of gay Americans in an inaugural let alone giving their struggle the same weight as the civil rights movement. But President Obama also stated that the rights for women and immigrants are also unalienable rights.
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. 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. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”
This was a historic day no doubt.
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