Welcome to our live coverage of the inaugural festivities at the U.S. Capitol. We’ll offer live analysis of President Obama’s second inaugural address and bits of analysis from our Hearst Newspapers team on the scene.
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President Obama has arrived at the Capitol. Lawmakers, celebrities, diplomats, members of the Supreme Court and several hundred thousand Americans are on hand.
The official festivities should be underway within a few minutes.
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The president greets the congressional leadership, shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner, kisses House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and proceeds inside the Capitol.
Hillary Clinton is walking a bit slowly. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is steadying her as they walk down the steps and onto the blue carpet leading to the west front of the Capitol.
The parade of former presidents may be the smallest ever. Only Clinton and Jimmy Carter are here. The other living ex-presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush remain in Texas. The 41st president was recently released from Methodist Hospital in Houston and was not cleared to travel to Washington.
Jimmy Carter is the only person in the front two rows wearing sunglasses.
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Bill Clinton gets thunderous ovation as he is introduced to the throng. Hillary Clinton turns on the smile when she emerges from inside the Capitol.
“Hello, hey, how are you all, hi,” the outgoing Secretary of State says.
Bill Clinton is shaking hands and telling stories like a young office-seeker. He’s frequently wrapping his left arm around his wife’s shoulder.
Our team is on the scene in the press area, just below the platform where the swearing-in will take place.
“Logistics amazingly hassle-free,” reports Hearst’s David McCumber. (Follow on Twitter: @DCMcCumber)
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Now it’s time for the second family. Delaware Attorney General Joe Biden, the vice president’s son, is carrying a very large bible.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor are chatting as they await their big moments. Roberts will swear Obama in for a fourth time in four years (remember the mixed-up in 2009, followed by a red-do at the White House, then yesterday’s official ceremony and today’s public ceremony). Sotomayor is the first Hispanic ever (and only the fourth woman) ever to conduct a swearing-in for a president or a vice president. (The first woman? U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes of Dallas, who swore-in Lyndon B. Johnson at Love Field in Dallas in 1963.)
Next to Sotomayor is Justice Antonin Scalia, wearing his favorite black cap.
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The first family is here. First daughters Malia and Sasha emerge, along with Marian Robinson, the first lady’s mom, Craig Robinson, her brother, and his kids.
This can’t be Washington. Everything is running on schedule!
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You can hear the “clomp, clomp, clomp” as the high heels make their way down the marble steps of the Capitol.
First, second lady Jill Biden. Then first lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is early, so the announcement of her appearance had to be delayed for about 30 seconds.
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The final pair: First, Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by House Minority Leader Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
A couple of rowdy lawmakers shout, “Joe, Joe, Joe.” The VP smiles. (As always.) His response: “God bless you!”
Then the man of the hour: President Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor, along with Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the bipartisan leaders of the inaugural festivities.
The pomp is propelling us toward the imminent swearing-in and awaited inaugural address. The Capitol grounds is a sea of red, white, blue and heavy black coats.
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It’s time for the first kisses. The president kisses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then the women of his family, first lady Michelle, first daughters Malia and Sasha, and finally mother-in-law Marian Robinson.
New York Sen. Schumer starts the ceremony with an official intro. He offers nonpartisan tribute to the military and equality. Whatever the challenges, Schumer says, “America prevails and America prospers.”
@NYCSouthpaw tweets: “Great speech by President Schumer”
@ZekeJMiller: Schumer started his remarks early. He has three minutes left per the schedule, and it looks like he plans to use it.
It’s clear that the president’s official name for the ceremony is “Barack H. Obama” — with a middle initial, not the middle name. That’s how Schumer introduced him. And it’s how the announcer introduced the president when he emerged from inside the Capitol.
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11: 35 a.m.
A moving, nonpolitical invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams, former president of the NAACP and widow of slain Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Her theme: “America, there is something within.”
I only wish politicians could learn to speak as concisely and eloquently.
She’s followed by the Tabernacle Choir — but not the Mormon choir, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
You see, Brooklyn’s Chuck Schumer organized the event. So his hometown choir got the job. I’ll give it to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir — it looks like the tapestry that is America. Incredibly diverse. Magnificent voices.
“The Battle Hymn of the Republic” always stirs me. I’m reading “The Complete Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” and this stirring rendition of the Hymn makes me think back to those difficult days of rebellion and ultimate salvation of our Union.
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A very large number of lawmakers also are playing amateur photographer today. The most prominent are Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the unofficial photog of the Senate, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington.
A few lawmakers had technical difficulties:
@petegallego “Tweeted but . . . none of my tweets went through. But . . . I also got some cool pictures to post later.”
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Now a brief word from a Republican.
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican in inaugural planning, quotes “Roots” author Alex Haley: “Find the good and praise it.”
Alexander is completely nonpartisan. He sticks to patriotism and doesn’t try to make partisan points.
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It is moving to watch a Latina justice of the Supreme Court administering the oath of office. Another sign of how far we’ve come as a nation.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn has a prominent spot just behind Vice President Biden.
Biden kisses Justice Sotomayor after the oath is completed, she expresses appreciation for the opportunity to be there today.
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Folk musician James Taylor sings “America the Beautiful,” but I’m having a Separated At Birth moment. Does anyone else note the resemblance between the latter-day Taylor and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert?
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Bravo, Chief Justice Roberts! You got it right this time.
Wonder how many rehearsals were needed.
Roberts and Obama are joined at the hip in American history. The Obamacare decision from the Supreme Court this year was an important chapter. But there are more to be written.
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We’re a bit EARLY. The president is now delivering the inaugural address.
First theme is togetherness. He says we hold truths to be “self-evident but not self-executing.”
I’m hearing the constitutional scholar Obama. As opposed to Scalia’s “original intent” philosophy, the president is talking about a living Republic. “As times change,” he said, “so must we.”
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.
Then it’s on to a bit more divisive talk: “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
He also rejects Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” rhetoric — in the president’s words today, “that we are a nation of takers.”
It’s interesting how Obama is choosing the lines of division for the next four years. On climate change, he sides with science against an unnamed foe.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said.
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“Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.”
Obama ties the gay-rights movement to the civil rights and women’s rights movements of the past century and a half.
This is the first time in the history of presidential inaugurations that a president has talked in detail about gay rights.
He quickly pivots to “Dreamers” who seek to become Americans even though they were brought into the nation illegally by their parents.
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Good cop, bad cop. First, a warning about the tone of discourse:
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”
He first A bit of caution for his strongest supporters: “Today’s victories will only be partial.”
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It’s over. Is this the shortest inaugural address in modern history?
Kelly Clarkson wraps things up with a soulful rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”
@DanaBashCNN: “Kelly Clarkson clearly Schumer’s pick. He is so excited.”
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Poet Richard Blanco is reading a tremendously moving poem that highlights the American Dream.
Blanco notes how his mother sacked groceries for 20 years “so I could write this poem for all of us today.” And his father, “cutting sugar cane so my brother and I could have books and shoes.”
Blanco’s appearance — and the subsequent benediction by the Rev. Luis Leon of St. John’s Church in Washington — underscores the presence of Latinos and Hispanic culture throughout the inaugural festivities. It hasn’t been gratuitous or an afterthought. It has been a rich part of the tapestry.
@auroralosada: “@BarackObama menciona defensa derechos gays, mujeres, reforma inmigratoria, mejor redistribución riqueza en su discurso de Inauguración”
@WaymonHudson “The whole #inauguration event was so modern, multi-cultural, inclusive, and really reflective of what America really looks like. So amazing.”
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Beyonce. Our National Anthem. Just amazing! What a singer! What a way to end the ceremony!
@KatieSherrod3: #inaug2013 Two Texas women — Kelly and Beyonce.”
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This is going to be an inaugural address for the history books. Its lofty rhetoric and repeated themes of equality and coming together will make it memorable. Coming 50 years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it probably will be added to the canon of famous civil rights speeches.
It was short of specifics, but it dealt with big themes. That kind of speech tends to be more memorable. There will be plenty of time (State of the Union, etc.) to list political initiatives of the moment.
Today’s speech was about the state of American equality, circa 2013.
Biggest surprise: his extensive section on gay rights. Having read all previous presidential inaugural addresses yesterday, I can tell you that this is a significant moment in inauguration history.
Second biggest surprise: just a short mention of “Newtown” — the Connecticut school massacre.
Obama only took a few jabs at Republicans, but I’m sure they will be duly noted (climate change, the tone of the debate in DC).
Now it’s up to the president and the Congress to act.
Not talk. Act.
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>>> More in-depth inaugural coverage
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Here is the complete text of Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem:
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together