US ushers in new era
Barack Obama and his wife Michelle depart Blair House for St. John’s Episcopal Church, just hours before Obama took the oath of office as US President on Tuesday.
Sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama today became the first black American to occupy the White House, fulfilling Martin Luther King's dream sooner than anyone had imagined.
Obama’s rise from a small-time community worker to the most powerful man in the world marks a huge political transformation in a country with a racist past.
Obama, his hand firmly on the Bible last used by his idol Abraham Lincoln at his own swearing in, was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on the steps of the United States Capitol. Michelle Obama held the Bible as her husband took the oath. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was administered the oath as Vice-President by Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.
The event marked the end of an eight-year chapter of George W. Bush’s presidency — a record blighted by unfinished wars, record deficits and an economy in recession. But it also opened a chapter of “change”, a mantra often repeated by Obama during the course of his presidential campaign.
Earlier, a top aide said Obama would use his inauguration address to call on Americans to embrace a new era of responsible behaviour. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s pick for chief of staff, said Obama would ask the nation to reject the “culture of anything goes.”
Crowds fill the National Mall early in the morning before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States.
The event was conducted under a tight security blanket as spectators packed on the National Mall huddled under their own blankets in below freezing temperatures. Forecast for the day included light snow. Roads and bridges leading into Washington were shut down to vehicular traffic except public transportation, while waterways including the Potomac River were patrolled by troops, a precaution that extended further this time as a consequence of the Mumbai attacks. Terrorists had used boats to come to Mumbai’s shores before commencing their bloodbath.
Obama, Michelle Obama, Biden and his wife Jill Biden attended church services earlier on Tuesday morning at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the capital. Following the services, the Obamas and the Bidens were scheduled to have coffee with Bush, Laura Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney and members of the House and Senate leadership at the White House.
The meeting was closed to the press.
Later, the four couples travelled together to the Capitol.
After taking the oath, next on the new President’s agenda was to sign cabinet secretary nomination certificates. Michelle Obama, the new first lady, Vice-President and second lady then reviewed the troops, before the beginning of the inaugural parade.
A spectator waits on the National Mall on the morning of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States on Tuesday.
Later, the Obamas were expected to attend all 10 official inaugural balls. In a spirit of bipartisanship that have been the hallmarks of his campaign and his Cabinet picks, Obama hosted a dinner to honour his former Republican presidential rival John McCain on Monday.
“We are glad that the days of rebuttals and campaigning are for now behind us. There is no doubt that throughout the summer and the fall, John and I were fierce competitors who engaged in a vigorous and sometimes heated debate over the issues of the day. And in a great democracy, this debate is both healthy and necessary,” Obama said.
“But what is even healthier and more necessary is the recognition that after the season of campaigning has ended, each of us in public life has a responsibility to usher in a new season of cooperation built on those things we hold in common. Not as Democrats. Not as Republicans. But as Americans,” he added. Obama praised McCain’s “bipartisan accomplishments” in the Senate.
McCain said he was grateful to Obama “for this very considerate gesture, and for allowing me to play a small role in the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, even if it isn’t the one I had in mind a few months ago.”
“Tomorrow, the President-elect will accept the burdensome privilege of leading America to its next accomplishments and its future greatness,” McCain went on to say. “He has my sincere best wishes for his success, and my promise of assistance. For his success will be our success.”
Re: US ushers in new era
Obama speech: We seek a new way for Muslim world
Aware that people around the globe are watching him, particularly in the Muslim world, the US President, Barack Hussein Obama, used his inaugural speech to reach out to the community in the Islamic states."To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said in his inaugural speech