The public swearing-in ceremony for America’s 44th president and his second inaugural speech was viewed by millions on television and a crowd of 600,000 to 800,000 who braved the cold to watch history in person.
The event, as always, was very patriotic, and you could not help but feel proud to be an American. Even though the in-person crowd may have been half the live audience of four years ago, it still was a giant crowd. And, while not as emotional as it was then, the inauguration was enthusiastic and respectful. No tears today, but still hope. And still joy and pride, by his supporters.
The speech was short, less than 20 minutes and, surprising, the president’s only very public demand for gay equality and climate control. Everything else in the speech was rhetoric we have heard before, and if it wasn't for the inauguration, this could have been a civil rights speech honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s anniversary.
Not a speech for the ages, but one that spoke to what the President believes.
As I watched, I realized we have become used to President Obama. Unlike four years ago, we now know the man better. He is not a stranger! He's also not the political savior who was going to be the next generation’s JFK or FDR.
His speeches we have heard before. As a matter of fact, the gorgeous singer Beyonce got louder applause after singing the Star-Spangled Banner than did the President upon finishing his speech. His hair is grayer, his manner more confident; his realism not anymore in tune with the battles ahead or the concept of sharing governing.
As I watched the former Presidents Clinton and Carter mingle with the crowd of dignitaries on the stage, I was struck by how passing this all is. The men and women up there on the stage are mostly members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet members, military leaders; they are the power players in our shared form of government. Carter and Clinton, only a few years ago, were the most powerful men of their generations. Both left office tarnished, and their presidencies unfulfilled. Carter was defeated and didn't have a second inaugural. Clinton was re-elected, but left office damaged. Both men's lives after the presidency have been rewarding, and both have made huge contributions to humanitarian causes. President Clinton is now the most admired man in the country.
President Carter is not! The President Bushes didn't even show up. The senior Bush has been ill; Bush the younger I think is done with the whole Washington scene and they with him.
The president's speech advocated the same lofty goals he has advocated since his days as a community organizer.
Equality and justice for all. Equality cannot come from taking from the successful and giving to those not so!
That formula didn't work for Robin Hood, and it won't work for the president.
The sad part is this is probably the happiest day of the president's second term. The next inaugural will be someone else’s, and we will know whether the president’s dreams have become successes or nightmares.
As the president was leaving the inaugural platform, he turned and looked out over the incredible view of the Washington, D.C. landscape. He could be overheard saying, "I just want to get one more look!"
I thought to myself: This is the view Speaker Boehner gets every day from his balcony. Maybe the president needs to spend more time up there getting to know how the place works. It won't be the speaker’s last view for a long time. And if the president wants success with his agenda, it has to be the speaker’s agenda, also.
But on this special day, I just want to say "Good luck, Mr. President. Our prayers are with you!"
Edward J. Rollins is a Fox News contributor. He is a former assistant to President Reagan and he managed his reelection campaign. He is a senior presidential fellow at Hofstra University and a member of the Political Consultants Hall of Fame.