One day after he was officially sworn in at a private ceremony, President Barack Obama took the oath of office again on Monday in front of over 650,000 people gathered on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, as well as millions who watched the ceremony around the world. Speaking on an Inauguration Day that coincided with Martin Luther King Day, President Obama appeared to be a more confident leader, rallying the country to join together and to use its collective strengths to achieve greatness.
Obama touched on several issues that could be themes in a second administration. These included climate change and sustainable energy, immigration reform, equal pay for women, voting reform and gay rights. He expressed a hard line on defense and offered pragmatic hope that the fiscal stalemate on Capitol Hill would be addressed.
The ceremony moved along almost effortlessly and even the most cynical in Washington gave the President high marks for a great performance. The remainder of the day saw great celebrations including the traditional parade and inaugural balls that evening.
Regrettably, the celebratory mood will quickly abate. Today, with the inaugural festivities behind, the President and Congress must turn their attention to the critical matters of extending the debt limit, the looming Sequestration, and funding of the government. If they can successfully address these issues, there may be an opportunity to consider some of the areas that the President laid out in his inaugural address. Not many in Washington and around the country are very optimistic. What happens on the economy in the next few months will determine if that is possible.