WASHINGTON — Allowing that "our journey is not complete," President Obama offered a robust liberal vision of America in his second inaugural address, embracing gay rights, action on climate change and a substantial role for government even as he acknowledged the challenges of a bitterly divided nation.
An ocean of American flags waved under overcast skies and hundreds of thousands of faces tilted up just before noon Monday as Obama stood on the Capitol's West Front and repeated the oath of office in America's 57th presidential inauguration.
Chants of "O-ba-ma" rose, echoing from a packed National Mall. The atmosphere was festive, but the fevered excitement that welcomed America's first African American president four years ago had been toned down. Still, though the crowd appeared smaller, it may rank as one of the largest for an inaugural celebration.
In an 18-minute speech, Obama paid tribute to the vast cultural, demographic and political changes that twice helped sweep him into office.
He also highlighted themes of national unity, borrowing language that even the most ardent tea party follower would endorse — praising "the patriots of 1776," describing freedom as "a gift from God," endorsing healthy skepticism of "central authority," and describing as "fiction" the notion that government can solve all ills.