President Obama delivered an eloquent, hard-hitting Inaugural address Jan. 21 to launch his second term.
In a day filled with pageantry, Obama delivered one of his presidency's most liberal speeches, available here. The president put a number of progressive policies on his second-term to-do list. The agenda surprised opponents and supporters alike who had seen him repeatedly compromise on his campaign promises, including in the year-end “fiscal cliff” negotiations.
Obama's stronger, more confident stance this week has its roots in the implacable GOP opposition to him throughout his first term and continuing into the transition. That's the new conventional wisdom in Washington.
Additionally, he and his advisors were outraged by dirty tricks by election opponents I am reporting in my forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. These included vote suppression and manipulation strategies, as well as largely bogus foreign policy attacks focused on the Benghazi massacre and, more generally, in a “Swift Boat” genre organizational effort against him by ex-military.
Obama could not complain about Republican campaign maneuvers during the campaign without sounding like a whiner. But it now appears that Republicans may pay the price for using over-the-top methods to win the White House for their elite constituency.
Or, maybe not.
It could be that the president's bold words during the Inaugural were part of the show, as much a mystery as whether singers were lip-synching. The president's rhetoric could have been intended to set up his supporters for more last-minute concessions on such vital issues as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and taxes.
I had a front row seat to some of the proceedings from my office on Pennsylvania Avenue, half-way along the president's parade route. The locale is just a block east from the Caucus Room Restaurant where Republicans plotted in 2009 to block all of Obama's initiatives no matter what they were. It's a block west from the hotel site where John Wilkes Booth plotted the assassination of President Lincoln.
During the 2009 Inaugural, I photographed President Obama and First Lady, as shown above. This led to my front-page scoop on the Huffington Post, Why the President ‘Stepped Out’ During His Inaugural Parade.
That prompted a follow up regarding Bush-era injustices, Probe the Past to Protect the Future, and a number of investigative reports published there and elsewhere. These injustices included the Bush frame-up of Democratic former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and its unfair railroading to prison of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, a Republican. The Obama administration's failure to rectify such demonstrable Bush injustices led to the creation of the nonpartisan Justice Integrity Project.
The government's power to create impressive displays is matched only by the public's patriotic desire for inspiration on such an occasion as an Inaugural. Therefore, the essence of this column is a range of opinion and predictions, excerpted below in an appendix. Try though we might to predict the future, however, we might as well concede that anyone who knows is not saying –or at the least might be hard to believe.