Obama, whose first term saw the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, pledged to defend American security after a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in a nod to his apparent intent to heighten the role of forceful diplomacy, Obama declared that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
Unlike four years ago, when a darkening economic cloud hung over the festivities and the stock market dropped by 4 percent on Inauguration Day, there are signs that the economy is improving. In his speech, Obama mentioned the word “economy” only once, and “jobs” twice, and instead diverted his attention to broader themes.
The driving theme of the speech could be shown in the choice of words he made, using “our” 79 times, “we” 62 times, “us” 18 times, and “together” seven times. Obama only used the word “I” two times in his 2,096-word speech.
Despite the political fault lines accentuated by the speech, GOP leaders for the most part gave Obama his moment and pledged to try to work with him.
The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who failed in his much-publicized goal of making Obama a one-term president, wished the president well in “fulfillment of his duty to lead the US at home and abroad over the next four years.”
“The president’s second term represents a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day; particularly, the transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt,” McConnell said. “Republicans are eager to work with the president on achieving this common goal, and we firmly believe that divided government provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Together, there is much we can achieve.”
In remarks at the traditional Inaugural Luncheon in the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican of Ohio, described the day as an opportunity to “renew the old appeal to better angels.”
But others chose not to attend. Romney was not there, making him the first losing candidate not to be on hand since 1989, when Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts did not attend. However, Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee and chairman of the House Budget Committee, did attend.
As Obama was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., he placed his left hand on a Bible belonging to Abraham Lincoln and another to King. It was a ceremonial repeat of the formal act on Sunday at the White House. The Constitution requires that presidents begin their terms on Jan. 20, so when that date falls on a Sunday — as it did six times previously — the more elaborate public inauguration is held the next day.
The inauguration also included Beyonce singing the National Anthem, Kelly Clarkson singing “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” and James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful.”