THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:17AM
President Barack Obama’s second inauguration was an anticlimax — inevitably so after the lofty promises of change and transformation made from the U.S. Capitol steps four years ago.
The 2013 Obama is now a battle-scarred chief executive, hardened by the political realities of governance that he was unable to change. If Obama believed then that the logic of his arguments, the depth of his conviction and fervor of his supporters would carry the day, he was quickly and brutally disabused of that notion when congressional Republicans announced that their No. 1 goal was to see that he would not survive politically to see his second inauguration.
Perhaps their impossibly high expectations and his cool, detached manner kept Obama from getting his due, even from his own supporters. As the smoke of political battle clears, his first term emerges as one of significant accomplishment, including: universal health care; a bailout plan that, however imperfect, saved the U.S. auto industry; a sweeping overhaul of financial regulation; extracting us from one war and beginning to extract us from another.
Perhaps the most glaring bit of unfinished business is that of balancing America’s books, reconciling social promises — such as care of the sick and aged, and the education of our young — with our ability to pay for them. The problem is not insoluble, but it will require a generation of political heroes that has yet to emerge.
Inaugurations are not empty ceremonies. They mark more than two centuries of a peaceful change of power. If first inaugurations represent soaring, and generally unfulfilled, hopes, second inaugurations mark a momentary cessation of political hostilities.
Now it is back to the messy, gritty business of politics and a politically difficult agenda of action on immigration reform, climate change, gun violence, gay rights, equal pay for women and, in the broadest terms, making the Declaration of Independence’s “most evident of truths” — that we are created equal — true for all.
Scripps Howard News Service