WASHINGTON (AP) — AP journalists are fanning out across the capital to cover Inauguration Day as part of a running feed of content and analysis. Here are their reports, which will be updated through the day.
A sampling of comments from Americans NOT in Washington for Obama's inauguration.
—"We see history in the making. This is the second term for a black president. This is something he spoke about, that all races come together as one," — Joyce Oliver, visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., on the site of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.
—"He's trying his best. He did a lot his last period as I think he's going to do a lot more in his next four years," — Karen Espinoza, 24, working at a Hispanic market in Little Rock, Ark.
—"He made the same promises as last time. It's worse than four years ago." — Frank Pinto, 62, of Wethersfield, Conn., a construction contractor who said he's been out of work for five months. He was seated just below a TV screen at a bar and said he watched little of the inauguration.
— "It's the same old stuff. This is a tough job when you're not getting help from either party. Not 100 percent of the promises will be kept." — Greg Thelusma, 24, who watched the inauguration on a news app on his smartphone in a cafeteria at the office building where he works in Hartford, Conn. He says he voted for Obama, but discounted the president's inaugural speech.
—"We've gone quite a ways in fulfilling the dream that Dr. King had." — Keith Buckner, 54, of Louisville, Ky., at the Muhammad Ali Center. "It's a wonderful, wonderful time in the history of the United States."
—"In his first term, Obama was left to take care of everything that Bush left unfinished. Now in his second term maybe there'll be more progress visible to the public so they'll see that he is a good president for our country," — Richmond Tolbert, 19-year-old homeless man in Olympia, Wash.
—Adrian Sainz, Bruce Schreiner, Jonathan Kaminsky, Jeannie Nuss, Steve Singer
TRANSFORMATIONAL OR NOT?
Analysis about today's events from AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti, who has covered presidential politics for more than a decade:
President Barack Obama wanted at the start of his first term to be a transformational president who tackled big domestic problems that other politicians had kicked down the road. But that was before he assumed office in the middle of two wars, and an economic crisis. Out of necessity, the bulk of his first term was spent on those matters.
Yes, he did manage to remake our health care system — an enormous achievement but one that also severely divided the country. But, aside from that, much of his first term was marked by partisan fights, gridlock and stalemate as both he and Republicans dug in on their respective positions on various issues — and chose to put the ideological purity of their bases over pragmatic solutions for the rest of the country. Obama himself acknowledged he was frustrated by his failure to change the way Washington works. And, at the end of his first term, a familiar script was playing out as the White House and Congress neared the brink of economic disaster, only to reach for compromise at the last minute to temporarily avert crisis.
Now, at the start of a new term, he has one more shot to go big before he goes home. But he faces the same political situation as he did before: Republicans control the House and his fellow Democrats run the Senate. Yet, he faces a different set of issues, mostly domestic in nature unless foreign crisis flares.
So, he must decide. Does he dig in deep on his Democratic principles, or does he look for areas of compromise with Republicans — and find solutions to everything from our broken immigration system to mass shootings to a convoluted tax code. The answer to that question could suggest whether he simply makes change at the edges, or whether he accomplishes big things — and becomes a transformational figure for more reasons than simply being the president.
—Liz Sidoti — Twitter http://twitter.com/lsidoti
A REAL EVENT?
Ted Anthony, AP's editor-at-large and frequent writer about American culture, looks at the meaning of today's inauguration.
A half-century ago, Daniel J. Boorstin, one of the country's most famous historians, coined the term "pseudo-event" — an event that happens for the sole purpose of being watched. "The celebration is held, photographs are taken, the occasion is widely reported," he wrote.
That was today's presidential inauguration — right down to the letter.
So much of politics is a scripted affair already. Much of what is done by politicians and those who govern is designed to be "on message," to "play to the base" or "stick to the talking points." Speeches are written by five, 10, 20 people and then emerge from the mouth of one. It's hard to determine precisely what is accomplished and what is, for lack of a better term, "accomplished."
Even in the realm of scripted affairs, though, this was noteworthy: It was the scripted version of a scripted version. A pseudo-pseudo-event. The actual inauguration took place Sunday in the relative privacy of the White House because the actual Inauguration Day fell on a Sunday. Today's public version contained thousands of people, lots of dressed-up dignitaries on stage, Supreme Court justices — and an oath of office that, from a legal standpoint, meant nothing.
When it comes to the American identity, of course, we need and savor these events. They invoke national themes and foster pride. They tell us: Continuity exists, the nation goes on. They give the president an opportunity to deliver a real message amid all the careful calibration.
But as Americans consider this day, it's worth considering how very American, too, is the scripted event that took place in front of their capitol and on their television, video and smartphone screens. And you might ask: In the end, which one was the real event?
— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted
A BIT OF NOSTALGIA
As second-term President Barack Obama exited the inaugural platform and headed back into the Capitol, he stopped and turned around to look back at the scene and savor the view. It was hard to determine what he said at first, but a review of the tape produced this:
"I want to take a look, one more time. I'm not going to see this again."
— Nancy Benac — Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac
WATCHING IN OBAMA'S HOMETOWN
In an auditorium in the city he calls home, they stood and cheered.
Hundreds of people gathered in Chicago to watch as Barack Obama appeared via live telecast at his inauguration ceremony today.
Carol Adams, CEO and president of the DuSable Museum of African American History, told the crowd at the museum the day "is proof positive that history is still being made."
The museum is located near the University of Chicago, where Obama studied and later taught before he became president. A standing-room-only crowd filled the museum's 400-seat auditorium for the telecast and Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
Andrea Pellebon, 16, of Chicago says she came out because she wanted to be able to tell her friends she saw the nation's first black president be sworn in to his second term.
Pellebon, who is black, says the day lets children — especially black children — know they can do anything "just like Barack Obama."
— Twitter http://twitter.com/sara_burnett
A BIT OF A STUMBLE
President Barack Obama's ceremonial oath of office hit a small snag.
Unlike four years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts said the oath correctly. But this time, it was Obama who appeared to stumble over the word "states" as he repeated back the words "the office of president of the United States."
But this time, Roberts won't need to administer the oath again just to be on the safe side.
This one was just for show. Obama had already been officially sworn in for a second term on Sunday, in accordance with the Constitution, which requires presidential terms to begin on Jan. 20.
In 2009, it was Roberts who famously flubbed Obama's official swearing in. So the two repeated the presidential oath in a private ceremony to ensure there were no constitutional issues.
So to sum up, for those keeping score at home: In 2009, a public oath superseded by a private one; in 2013, a private oath followed by a public one that didn't legally matter.
— Henry C. Jackson — http://twitter.com/hjacksonAP
Small streams of people began leaving the National Mall right after President Barack Obama took the oath of office, not staying to hear his inaugural speech. Some were making a quick exit to find a good spot along the parade route, while others wanted to get on Metrorail before the trains got too crowded.
"You make me feel bad," said Twanda Rhodes of Longwood, Fla., when asked why she was leaving. "But it's cold, and we have to catch a train."
— Richard Lardner — Twitter http://twitter.com/rplardner
REMINDER OF RISK
This micro-analysis from Sally Buzbee, AP's Washington bureau chief:
On this day, bad news came before ceremony.
Little more than an hour before the public version of President Barack Obama's second inaugural, there was a sobering reminder of the risks that he and the nation face in the next four years: A U.S. official confirmed that a total of three Americans had been killed in a brutal hostage taking by Islamic militants in the north African country of Algeria. Seven other Americans working at the plant where the hostage standoff occurred were unharmed.
One of Obama's biggest first-term accomplishments, of course, was the killing of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader who spearheaded the 9-11 attacks. But another al-Qaida offshoot, this one in Muslim north Africa, has been causing growing worries in the past year. Those militants have made a run at controlling the country of Mali, beaten partly back by the French. And last week, they showed a new aggressiveness, attacking the plant full of American and other foreign workers on the edge of the Sahara in Algeria, next to Mali.
There's no question that the loosening of political repression in the Middle East the last few years — the Arab spring — has also let loose the chance of fewer dictators controlling local extremist movements. Africa may seem far away to most Americans but so was Afghanistan and the al-Qaida threat there before 9-11.
A sharp reminder that it's still a dangerous world, and Obama and the nation could face threats in the next four years that, right now, seem remote.
— Sally Buzbee
THE WORDS THEMSELVES
President Barack Obama's second inaugural address was so broad that in 2,114 words, he repeated only three words more than a dozen times and those words themselves weren't exactly telling but geared toward future collective action.
The word Obama used most, except for common articles, was "will," which he used 21 time, which came in just ahead of the word "us," which he used 20 times. Obama used the word "must" 16 times. The word "people" came in fourth with 11 uses and "time" was mentioned ten times. Obama mentioned the word "America" eight times, "together" seven times, "country" seven times and "make" seven times.
Obama was slightly less verbose than four years ago when his speech had 2,385 words, but he emphasized the same words in both addresses. He said "us" 23 times, "will" 17 times, "nation" 12 times, "new" 11 times and "America" nine times.
— Seth Borenstein — Twitter http://twitter.com/borenbears
FROM THE GOP:
Sentiments of bipartisanship and an interest in working together: That's what Republicans are offering as President Barack Obama starts his second term.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says the day shows that "our major political parties can disagree with civility and mutual respect." He wishes Obama well on the next four years.
McConnell says the second term represents a "fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day," including federal spending and debt. He said Republicans believed that "divided government provides the perfect opportunity to do so."
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate, notes that he and Obama were "political opponents" and had "strong disagreements over the direction of the country — as we still do now." But Ryan says that on Inauguration Day, "we put those disagreements aside" and "remember what we share in common."
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, speaking shortly before Obama's address, invoked Alex Haley, the author of "Roots," who lived by the motto, "Find the good and praise it." Alexander says that when America's government transfers or reaffirms power, "we do this in a peaceful, orderly way. There is no mob, no coup, no insurrection."
—Ken Thomas — Twitter http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas
A TIGHT EDIT
President Barack Obama's speech clocked in at 18 minutes — a relatively tight and short inaugural address.
— Darlene Superville — Twitter http://twitter.com/dsupervilleap
OBAMA: GOVT AS (PARTIAL) SOLUTION?
More analysis from Michael Oreskes, AP's senior managing editor for U.S. news and co-author of a book on the Constitution's role in American life:
From the same podium where President Obama stood today, Ronald Reagan famously said that in the present crisis government is not the solution, government is the problem. Three decades on, emerging from another, even deeper crisis, Obama said government is, at least part of the solution.
Americans remain skeptical of central authority and have never succumbed to the fiction that government is the total solution, he said.
"But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," Obama said.
"For the American people can no more meet the demands of today's world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we'll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people."
Perhaps it is the ultimate sign of the end of the Reagan era that a president who uses a phrase like "collective action" could be re-elected.
— Michael Oreskes — Twitter http://twitter.com/MichaelOreskes
CIVIL RIGHTS, INVOKED
President Barack Obama emphasized three prongs of civil rights, declaring, "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still."
He went further, with direct mentions of equality regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. He referenced both Selma and Stonewall — landmark events for black and gay Americans, respectively — and talked of our country finally seeing its wives and mothers earning an "equal living" for the work that they do.
"It is our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began," he said on this day, which is also Martin Luther King Day in the United States.
—Liz Sidoti — Twitter http://twitter.com/lsidoti
WE JUST DISAGREE
"Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness." — Barack Obama, in his second inaugural address.
Follow AP reporters contributing to Inauguration Watch on their Twitter handles, listed throughout the text.