The Ticket

Conservatives react to Obama inaugural speech

Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News
The Ticket

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President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after his speech on Monday. (Scott Andrews-Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama's inaugural address advanced an unapologetically liberal agenda for his second term, a vision that has raised the ire of some conservatives.

Obama specifically rebuked conservative arguments against his policies in the speech, rejecting the notion that entitlement programs make America a "nation of takers."

"The commitments we make to each other—through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security—these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," he said in his address on Monday. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

Sen. John McCain, who unsuccessfully ran against Obama in 2008, told The New York Times he did not like the tone of the speech. “I would have liked to see a little more on outreach and working together,” McCain said. “There was not, as I’ve seen in other inaugural speeches, ‘I want to work with my colleagues.’”

Obama also mentioned climate change, immigration and gay rights in his speech, but most conservative critics focused on a topic the president didn't talk about much: the deficit.

Charles Krauthammer, the conservative commentator, called the speech "an ode to big government" on Fox News. Krauthammer said Obama ignored the question of how the country will deal with its deficit. "Obama had zero interest in that, and this was a declaration that his interest is to restore us to the liberal ascendency," Krauthammer said.

President George W. Bush's former chief of staff Andy Card called it a "parallel universe speech" on Fox News Monday afternoon, criticizing Obama for not focusing on the nation's economic and national security problems.

Some commentators agreed. “When historians look back at Obama’s second inaugural, they will reread an impassioned defense of activist government and a plea for more of it," wrote Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard. "But I suspect they will also look at this address as both a reminder of Obama’s failure to address the debt in his first term and a harbinger of his unwillingness to pay for the entitlement state in his second.”

But Newt Gingrich, who ran for the Republican presidential nod last year, said he liked the speech. "I thought it was very, very good," Gingrich told Politico. "I didn’t think it was very liberal. There were one or two sentences obviously conservatives would object to, but 95 percent of the speech I thought was classically American, emphasizing hard work, emphasizing self-reliance, emphasizing doing things together. I thought it was a good speech."

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