President Barack Obama kisses his wife, Michelle, after the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON, January 21, 2013 – After President Obama publicly took the oath of office for his second term on Monday, he quickly defended the ideology of the Democratic Party as he urged all Americans to accept compromise as a path toward solving the nation’s problems.
“Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time,” Obama said after taking the oath from the Chief Justice. “Decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”
This page was last updated: January 22, 2013
President Obama 2013 Inauguration Photos
Barack and Michelle Obama Photo Pages
Latest Barack Obama News Photos
The 2013 Presidential Inauguration Obama speaks on gays, compromise, and climate change!
President Barack Obama greets singer Kelly Clarkson during inauguration ceremonies for Obama's second inauguration
President Barack Obama is sworn into office for a second term by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts during the inauguration ceremony at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol
President Barack Obama delivers his Inaugural speech during ceremonies on the West front of the U.S Capitol in Washington
Lasting a little over 18 minutes -- short by historical standards -- the address hit on major policy priorities that President Obama hopes to pursue.
For the first time, an inaugural address mentioned the rights of gay Americans, as Obama declared that America’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.”
The president also insisted on the need to “respond to the threat of climate change” – something he largely avoided after a stinging loss in Congress early in his first term.
“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” he said. “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.”
“That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”
Obama also included brief reminders of his proposals for gun control and immigration reform among his policy pledges. Many have picked up on what amounted to a strong reaffirmation of the core of liberal, Democratic politics and its belief in the positive role that government can play in the nation’s life.
In a nod to those who do not share that outlook, he noted that Americans “have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.”
But, he said, “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
“We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few,” he said. “The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own,” he declared.
At the conclusion, Obama walked back into the Capitol building, then turned for a moment to look out at the national Mall, filled with hundreds of thousands of flag-waving Americans. “I want to see this again,” he could be heard saying.
Shortly afterward, he signed the Capitol’s guest book, then, with the bipartisan congressional leadership looking on, signed the formal paperwork to submit the nominations of his choices for several Cabinet posts, the secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury and the head of the CIA.
The speech culminated a ceremony heavily laced with references to the country’s long struggle toward equality for its African American citizens.
From an invocation by the widow of a slain leader of the civil rights movement that opened the formal proceedings to the two Bibles on which Obama took the oath, one of which belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the other to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the symbols of the nation’s 57th inaugural ceremony traced the historic arc that led toward the nation’s first black president.
President Barack Obama leaves the stage after his inauguration at the U.S Capitol.
Beyonce is cheered by first lady Michelle Obama as she leaves the stage after singing the National Anthem at President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony at the U.S Capitol