NEW YORK – With trappings of an inaugural celebration in place and the flag-draped stands ready outside the Capitol, President Barack Obama was sworn in for four more years. He embarks on a second-term quest to restore a still shaky economy and combat terrorists while swearing an age-old oath “to preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution. He took his oath of office before Chief Justice John Roberts.
An estimated crowd of about 800,000, less than the million-plus four years ago, filled the nation’s capital to witness the inauguration of the first black president in American history.
The 44th chief executive is only the 17th to win re-election, and his second-term goals are ambitious for a country where sharp political differences have produced gridlocked government in recent years.
In his inaugural address Obama alluded to an agenda of his second term from improved to equal pay for equal work for women to immigration to global warming.
“We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed,” Obama said.
Gary Abasolo, a lawyer from Jersey City, thought Obama’s inauguration was quite impressive and entertaining as all Presidential inaugurations usually are, with all its pomp and grandiose ceremonies.
“They only occur once every four years. But Obama’s was quite special and unique, in light of the fact that he is the first black American,” Abasolo told the Philippine Daily Mirror.
As for Obama’s speech, he said it was quite thoughtful, interesting and somewhat provocative. “He talked about issues that are not normally mentioned in a presidential inauguration speech: Rights for gay Americans – that’s a hot button issue for many people,” he noted.
Although a registered Republican, Gali Munar, also of Jersey City, told the Philippine Daily Mirror he didn’t want his views to be perceived as a preconceived notion. He offered a different view from Abasolo’s.
He said the inauguration was “an ostentatious display of wealth, that as if the country was or is doing well economically. The truth is, America is still on the brink of another economic collapse because of President Obama’s own failure during his first term in office to understand and resolve the basic economic ills of the country. “
Munar thought that Obama’s speech was pure rhetoric. “Form and style were probably grandiloquence,” he said, “ but, definitely lacking in detail and substance,” he continued. He said Obama spoke only in general terms, too vague for one to understand his real program on how to validate those new promises.
“Equality for all, gay rights, women’s equal pay and immigration reforms are all old issues that have already prevailed even before his first term in office. Now on his second term, he is starting with it with a call to act now. Why only now? He had four years but did nothing during those four years,” said Munar.
On the other hand, Abasolo acknowledged that Obama’s speech was quite “partisan” and not as conciliatory as one might think of for a President. “Perhaps that claim is partially true, since he really did not mention about the importance for Washington politicians from both parties to be bipartisan and do their best work together.”
Abasolo also noted that Obama is intent to cash on the “political capital” that he obtained from his re-election for a second term last November, which he should. “But at the same time, he should not stray away from at least attempt to be bipartisan and work out some compromises with Congressional Republicans on many divisive issues,” Abasolo said.
Munar thought that the most important issue is the one that President Obama “was not so emphatic about – the country’s ailing economy. Perhaps, because he has no program that will fix the problem or he does not expect to be able to resolve the situation during his second term.” he said.
Abasolo said “the American people’s most important concerns demand that the president and Congress work together so that they can get the people’s work done, for the benefit of Americans. “