Reality bites Obama's inaugural ideals

2013-01-23 11:01
US President Barack Obama (Jewel Samad, AFP)

US President Barack Obama (Jewel Samad, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama's lofty ideals from his inaugural address ran smack into reality on Tuesday on the first working day of his second term.

Twenty-four hours after Obama pledged to tackle climate change and called for gays and lesbians to be treated equally under the law, the White House struggled to back up his sweeping rhetoric with specifics, raising questions about how much political muscle he'll put behind both issues.

Republicans were already signalling their unhappiness with Obama's agenda.

"The era of liberalism is back," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. "If the president pursues that kind of agenda, obviously it's not designed to bring us together."

Obama, standing before hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall on Monday, had vowed to "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

But in the White House briefing room a day later, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said he couldn't speculate about future actions. He said that while climate change was a priority for the president, "it is not a singular priority".

On gay rights, the president had declared that the nation's journey is "not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well".

But Carney said the president was speaking about his personal views and would not take federal action on same-sex marriage, which he continues to see as a state issue.

Even with his last election behind him, Obama has politics to weigh as he considers just how much effort he'll put into pursuing climate change legislation and a gay rights agenda.

Both issues are backed by the president's liberal base but opposed by many Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Obama is already asking lawmakers for a lot as he starts his second term. He needs their votes to increase the nation's borrowing limit and approve billions of dollars to keep the government running.

For environmental groups and gay rights supporters, Obama's inaugural address provided fresh hope for progress on issues that were stumbling blocks for Obama in his first term.


Same-sex unions

Despite Obama's many actions to bolster gay rights in his first term -including repealing the military's ban on openly gay service members- his reluctance to back gay marriage frustrated many of his liberal supporters until he ultimately voiced his support for same-sex unions last year.

Supporters of both issues say Obama will quickly have opportunities to demonstrate his commitment to their causes in his second term.

The Supreme Court will soon take up Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.

Opponents of the ban have called on the Obama administration to file an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief to overturn the measure.

"We view the president's filing of an amicus brief in this case as the next natural step to his inaugural remarks," said Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights groups.

"His call for equal justice under the law for gay and lesbian Americans including in their committed relationships is the centrepiece of the argument against Proposition 8."
The White House has so far refused to take a position on the Supreme Court case.

'Getting serious about climate change'


For environmental groups, Obama's next best chance to make good on his inaugural address is a looming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Obama blocked the pipeline last year, citing uncertainty over the project's route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska.

But on Tuesday, the state's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, gave his approval for a revised route of the pipeline, a widely anticipated move that nonetheless added to the political pressure for the Obama administration to approve or reject the new route without delay.

"If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830 000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea," said Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Republicans and many business groups say the pipeline project would help achieve energy independence.

The State Department, which has federal jurisdiction over the $7bn pipeline because it begins in Canada, said on Tuesday that it would not be able to conclude its review during the first quarter of the year.

White House officials sought to look beyond Keystone, with aides saying on Tuesday that the president may also pursue executive actions to fulfil his pledge to tackle climate change.

- AP

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Saturday Hout Bay - 12:31 PM
    Road name: Hout Bay Main Road
    EXPECT DELAYS between Hout Bay and Constantia due to 2 Oceans Marathon
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R3565.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.