President Obama’s Inaugural Speech Shows He Doesn’t Plan to Lower Expectations for Second Term

My reaction to President Obama’s inaugural speech — it struck the right tone with progressives and shows he has no intention of lowering expectations. His coalition is extraordinary and he will be working from strength — politically — and that allows him to be magnanimous. President Obama issued a stinging and direct rebuke against Paul Ryan’s labeling some Americans as “takers” when he singled out Social Security, during his speech, essentially attacking the callousness and coldness from Republicans.

President Obama reminded us that his taking the oath isn’t a “you’re on your own” but we are all in it together. President Obama may ultimately change American politics by calling on “We the People” to take an active role into what happens in government. Change isn’t going to come from Washington. It has to come from the people. He may be on to something with his newly retooled Obama for America outfit, now known as Organizing for Action. President Obama’s speech was Lincolnesque and was a call to action.

More reaction from other pundits:

Andrew Sullivan: “If you have long believed, as I have, that this man could easily become the liberal Reagan by the end of his second term… then this speech will not have surprised you.”

James Fallows: “I was expecting an anodyne tone-poem about healing national wounds, surmounting partisanship, and so on. As has often been the case, Obama confounded expectations — mine, at least. Four years ago, when people were expecting a barn-burner, the newly inaugurated president Obama gave a deliberately downbeat, sober-toned presentation about the long challenges ahead. Now — well, it’s almost as if he has won re-election and knows he will never have to run again and hears the clock ticking on his last chance to say what he cares about. If anyone were wondering whether Obama wanted to lower expectations for his second term … no, he apparently does not.”

Ezra Klein: “In his first term, Obama changed policy. In his second, he wants to change minds.”

Chris Cillizza: “This was a speech that could only be given by someone who knew that he would never have to run for re-election again… This was Obama unbound. Distill Obama’s speech to a single sentence and that sentence is: ‘I’m the president, deal with it.'”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “There was a time when merely stating the ideas Obama put forth would have gotten you killed.”

Organizing for America: