In Term 2, the fierce urgency of now
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This was a president unbound from much of what defined him four years ago, a man clearly cognizant of time already running down on his opportunity to make his imprint on the country and on history.
Gone were the vision of a new kind of high-minded politics, the constraint of a future re-election campaign and the weight of unrealistic expectations. In their place was an unapologetic argument that modern liberalism was perfectly consistent with the spirit of the founders and a notice that, with no immediate crisis facing the nation, Obama intended to use the full powers of his office for progressive values.
"We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect," he said.
After spending much of his first term "evolving" on the question of same-sex marriage and doing too little in the eyes of many African-Americans to address poverty and civil rights, he invoked "Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall" and cited responsibility for the poor, sick and displaced.
He acknowledged the budget deficit but emphasized protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He mentioned jobs but highlighted global warming.
He lauded the bravery and strength of the United States armed forces, but started his foreign policy remarks by asserting that "enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war".
Obama has always had a dialectical quality: pragmatism versus ideology, bold versus cautious, hawk versus dove, post-racial versus man of colour.
Those tensions, no doubt, no longer remain.
For the American people can no more meet the demands of today's world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we'll need to equip our children for the future... Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
For we, the people, understand our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.
We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully - not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.
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...
First daughter's yawn goes viral on web
While millions of eyes were trained on her Big Daddy as he delivered his inauguration speech, the young Sasha Obama was briefly caught on the wrong foot — giving out a big yawn in the middle of the address — an image that has now gone viral on social networking sites. All of 11, the youngest Obama sat through the President's nearly 20-minutes address with sister Malia and mother Michelle. But somewhere in between, Sasha let out a big yawn. The image now has gone viral with sites abuzz with posts of adoration for the display of normalcy from the First daughter.
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