Barack Obama has entered his second term as the president with a scaled-back inauguration that reflects the tempered expectations for his next four years in office.
As The Guardian reports, Mr Obama delivered the oath in the Blue Room of the White House on Sunday accompanied by his wife holding her family bible and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, looking on. Afterwards, Obama kissed his wife and daughters, telling them: “I did it.”
The ceremony was held on Sunday because of a Constitutional requirement that the president begins his second term by noon on Jan. 20.
Mr Obama will overcome the same process Monday, when he takes the oath of office in front of thousands of people at the U.S. Capitol.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who administered the oath of office will also hold the ceremony during on Monday’s inauguration.
David Plouffe, a senior adviser, said revealed that the president would urge both parties to cooperate in order to resolve daunting second-term challenges like the budget, the need to raise the debt ceiling, need to create stricter gun laws and a legal path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
The president views the inauguration speech and the State of the Union speech to Congress on February 12 as “a package,” Plouffe said on Sunday, refusing to provide reporters with further details of Obama’s second-term agenda.
At a reception on Sunday night, the re-elected president thanked supporters, saying to them: “After we celebrate, let’s make sure to work as hard as we can to pass on an America that is worthy not only of our past but also of our future.”
After an election fight against Republican Mitt Romney, the daunting challenges facing Obama and his political battles with congressional Republicans have split public opinion about the prospects for the next term in the office, writes Reuters.
A new poll conducted last week found 43 percent of Americans were optimistic about the next four years of Obama’s term and 35 percent pessimistic, with 22 percent having a mixed opinion.
The president hopes to see embedded the biggest change of his first term, expanding of healthcare coverage which was passed two years ago but is not due to kick in until 2014. The most significant obstacles, from Republican governors to the Supreme Court, have been successfully overcome.
As far as stricter laws for gun control are concerned, Mr Obama may only be able to get through Congress tightened background checks for buyers, rather than an automatic-weapons ban. However, the U.S. president hopes to initiate the long-term, initiating a national debate on gun violence.
On the foreign affairs front, the biggest challenge for Barack Obama appears to reaching a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue, pulling most US combat troops out of Afghanistan and, possibly, trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ross Baker, a politics professor at Rutgers, said that Mr Obama had already done enough to be titled as one of the great presidents – not up with the great greats, such as Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but in the second tier, better than John Kennedy or Bill Clinton.
“He will strive to rekindle the excitement of the first term which is a difficult objective to achieve,” Baker said.
“His first term is a difficult act to follow. I could not imagine anything of the magnitude of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank [the legislation on financial regulation]. He would do well to get over the debt/spending obstacles with his dignity intact.”