News24

Obama calls for unity, equality

2013-01-21 22:20

Washington - President Barack Obama issued an impassioned call for national unity and equality on Monday, warning political "absolutism" must not thwart change and renewal, as he was inaugurated for a second term.

Obama was publicly sworn in for another four White House years before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on Washington's National Mall, and delivered an inaugural address steeped in poetic power and broad hints of his new agenda.

The 44th president repeatedly used the "We the People" preamble to the US Constitution to suggest how to reconcile America's founding truths and the current discord and dysfunction of its embittered political system.

"For now, decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay," Obama said.

"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect," Obama declared.

Obama's speech was noticeably liberal - calling for protection for the weak, the poor and those lacking health care and obliquely including a call for gay rights and protection against gun crime for children.

"Our 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," Obama said.

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.

"Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm."

The president also said that American security did not require "perpetual war" and promised to base US  global leadership on dialogue, firm alliances but not to cede the threat of the use of force.

"We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law," Obama said.

"We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully - not because we are nave about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear."

And Obama also vowed the meet the threat of global warming, despite scepticism on climate change from some Republican foes, and political barriers to taking serious action.

Swearing in

Obama earlier raised his right hand and rested his left on Bibles once owned by Martin Luther King jnr and Abraham Lincoln, on an outdoor platform set on the West Front of the US Capitol building and below its elegant white dome.

"I Barack Hussein Obama ..." the 44th president said, vowing to faithfully execute his office and to "preserve, protect and defend the constitution", led in the oath of office by black-robed Chief Justice John Roberts.

The president was earlier announced with a peal of trumpets and walked down the steps from the iconic building to a huge cheers of "Obama, Obama" from a vast crowd stretching into the distance down the National Mall below.

Obama, his smile beaming wide, appeared more relaxed than at his first inauguration four years ago, when he took office as an untested and inexperienced leader as an economic depression threatened.

The president, the first African American to hold the office, launched his second term with a private swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, before basking in the full pomp of his office with public celebrations on Monday.

Supporters

Bundled-up Obama supporters had trekked into town to join snaking lines for Secret Service checkpoints guarding a steel-fenced secure zone around the White House and the inaugural parade route.

Armoured military vehicles and parked buses blocked major roads, as part of a security vice that included air and river exclusion zones, road closures and a heavy presence of police and National Guard reserve troops.

Though the mood was festive, as revellers crammed into coffee shops and subway trains heading downtown, Obama's second inauguration lacked the sense of historic promise and hope that greeted his first term in 2009.

Dignitaries, including former Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, took their seats on a platform at the West Front of the Capitol.

One Obama supporter, the Reverend Ruddie Mingo, 54, donated time and money to the president's winning campaign against Republican Mitt Romney, and said inaugural festivities were less mobbed than four years ago.

"My hope is that his next four years we can get more stuff accomplished on both sides," he said.

Returning to office

Obama's political brand has been damaged by an exhausting first term battling the worst economic storm in decades and brutal partisan warfare with his Republican rivals, notably over taxes and spending.

When he returns to politics, Obama, 51, has a legacy to defend, including a historic health care law and a retrenchment from draining wars abroad, and he is vowing to make good on the promise of a fairer economy.

Obama took the oath for a first time on Sunday in a private ceremony at the White House because the constitution states that US presidential terms end at noon on 20 January.

When that date falls on a Sunday, there is a private swearing-in ceremony before public celebrations and a second oath taking the next day.

Poignantly, Obama took his second term oath of office on the federal holiday marking civil rights pioneer King's birthday.

In another historic echo, Obama was the second president to be sworn in four times - thanks to the Roberts stumble in 2009 and his double oath duty this year, joining Democratic icon Franklin Roosevelt.

Comments
  • Philip - 2013-01-22 05:12

    Equality translated is socialism.

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-01-22 07:26

      Is socialism that frightening in the wake of capitalism's evident failure, collapsing into selfishness, greed and inequality? "Freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice... Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality." -Mikhail Bakunin

  • werner.mayer.10 - 2013-01-22 05:32

    Bla bla bla... If you want to know what a politician is all about, look at his actions and not listen to his lies. Screw America, Obama only serves Israel.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-01-22 05:44

      Werner, That is a bit much coming from someone in Africa!!! The USA, INVESTS billions in Africa! The USA creates hundreds of thousands of JOBS in Africa!! The USA, through emergency aid ,saves the lives of millions of HUNGRY Africans, Yearly!!! The USA saves the lives of millions of AIDS and MALARIA sufferers, Yearly!!!! So, 'screw America' fortunatelly 95 % of Africans will not agree with you !!!!!!!!!!!

      simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-22 06:41

      @Anthony - if you claim to be African you gonna fist have to think like one, and understnad that Western interest in Africa remain to rape and plunder as much as possible, so called Aid is just a facade, we don't want or need them.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-01-22 07:07

      Simphiwe, Well, elections , all over Africa, including SA, tell a different story! Radicalism, Extremism, and anti American BS, have NO place in Africa. "rape and plunder" Is just silly and plain childish!! "Aid is a facade" Tell this to the MILLIONS of Africans, who depend on American aid !!! This anti Western crap is school kids stuff, and far from reality. Grow up !!!

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-01-22 07:20

      @Werner My motto as well is, watch what they do and not what they say! Simpra, Anthony is a western agent! @Anthony "The USA, INVESTS billions in Africa!" How many billions to be exact and how much do they extract in return? (The single most amount is $3 billion p.a. for military aid to Egypt) "The USA creates hundreds of thousands of JOBS in Africa!!" In which countries in Africa and where do you get you numbers from? "The USA, through emergency aid ,saves the lives of millions of HUNGRY Africans, Yearly!!!" It's called dumping you dumb swine where highly subsidised US farmers dump their excess produce in Africa and depress local prices and industry while keeping intl prices artificially high. It's overproduction in a global system that allows this to happen and then fools like you think the US is the great saviour by giving away food they can't sell. Why isn't the US sourcing its aid from local farmers or neighbouring countries? I can't believe your level of credulity, of craven submission to US propaganda. You have your head stuffed where you are suffocating and cannot tell what is real anymore. "The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor" --Voltaire

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-01-22 07:47

      Fidel, Firstly, you are confused AGAIN !! The motto of the lunatics of the left is; ' do what I say, not what I do ' 'western agent'=====That is soo unbelievable childish !!! INVEST====Just in the 'oil', 'automobile' . pharmaceutical, computer industries===BILLIONS !! JOBS===Just in the softdrink market, at least 100 000 jobs !! and than refer to the above re Investments. will continue !!

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-01-22 08:11

      Where are these jobs and in which countries? South Africa is an anomaly, and I'm talking the rest of Africa.

  • bone.marrow.501 - 2013-01-22 07:14

    Which decisions do you make in the white house Mr President. Its like a group of whites who take a black n make him ceo n call it BEE.

  • dane.herbst.5 - 2013-01-22 07:25

    remember back to 2008 and all his promises of this and that, none of them have come true, he has expanded the war, got them into more debt, enforced more police state laws, and its only gonna get worse, good luck america

      phoenix.px.5 - 2013-01-22 09:54

      Yes caring for poor people clearly does not count in your books.

      dane.herbst.5 - 2013-01-22 10:15

      you clearly dont follow the rest of what this war criminal does, open your eyes, the media will continue to paint a pretty picture of him, and keep the wool over your eyes, ask the poor people in pakistan etc how nice it is to be "helped" by obama

      phoenix.px.5 - 2013-01-22 14:59

      Do you enjoy conspiracy theories?

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