President Obama gave a fiery inaugural address today, one at once soaring and distinctly combative, making the case for collective action, support for the poor, and a variety of progressive priorities. He began by reciting the beginning of the Declaration of Independence—the "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" bit—and referred to it throughout his speech, calling it America's "creed" and "the star that guides us still." And he parlayed its message into a call for unity. "My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together," he said. Other highlights from the speech, which ran about 19 minutes:
- "We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as everyone else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal!"
- "The commitments we make to each other through Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great."
- He promised to "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
- "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." According to Politico this was the first time a president has ever used the word "gay" to refer to sexual orientation in an inaugural address.
- The "our journey is not complete" motif was repeated several times, advocating in turn for equal pay for women, immigration reform, voter rights, and finally, perhaps, a subtle nod to gun control: "Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."
- "That is our generation’s task, to make these works, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American."
- "My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope."