Four years ago, the National Mall was packed with record crowds. People gathering as President Obama prepares to take the oath of office and deliver a second inaugural address share some of the same sentiments as the crowds from 2009. But the crowds — and the vendors — are less numerous.
Yeah. And let's bring one more voice into the conversation, here. Michele Flournoy is a former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration, was mentioned at one time as a possible secretary of defense in a second term. Ms. Flournoy, where are you this morning?
MICHELE FLOURNOY: We are on our way from Bethesda, downtown.
Well, from the studio, I'm going to go out again to talk to NPR's Linda Wertheimer. She is at a place that has a very good view of the activities there on the Mall. That happens to be the Canadian embassy. And just one thing: the West Front of the Capitol is decorated in red, white and blue. That is the backdrop for President Obama's second Inauguration. And Linda has seen every Inauguration since the second time President Richard Nixon was sworn into office, his second inaugural. Good morning.
See what NPR users want President Obama to remember in his second term — then send us your own thoughts. And chat with NPR reporters about the day's events and the issues looming in Obama's second term.
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Originally published on Mon January 21, 2013 2:41 pm
Feelings of hope and change have mostly faded.
The country is in better shape than it was when Barack Obama became president four years ago. The economy is no longer in free fall, and the nation has for the most part extricated itself from seemingly endless wars abroad.
Yet as Obama prepares to enter his second term, there seems to be less optimism about his ability to address the nation's problems than was the case when he first entered the White House.
While Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o has spoken to ESPN — and said he did not participate in the hoax about a "dead" girlfriend who turned out to be neither real nor dead — that wasn't on camera or recorded.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. One of the liveliest parts of today's events dates back to the very first Inauguration, and that would be the inaugural parade. After George Washington took his oath of office, he was joined by a procession made up of local militias as he made his way from Mount Vernon to New York City. Today, the parade is a colorful blend of marching bands, floats and different organizations led by ceremonial military regiments.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The inaugural parade will have floats and marching bands, and for science geeks a special treat - life-size replicas of the NASA Mars rover, Curiosity, and the Orion space capsule. The biggest attraction may be marching alongside the replicas: Bobak Ferdowsi, the go-to guy for last year's Mars landing, who came to be known as Mohawk Guy. He told Wired magazine he'll reveal a special new hairstyle just for today's parade. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Vice President Joe Biden first ran for president in the 1980s, an up and coming young pol who was knocked out of the race. He tried again in 2008 before becoming President Obama's running mate. Now, he starts another term still number two. But at a weekend inaugural event, he declared, I'm proud to be president of the United States. His son corrected him, though one persistent question is whether the vice president may try one more run in 2016.
Morning Edition has a team of reporters spread out across the city, getting a feel for how things are going in different areas. Thousands of people are descending on the nation's capital to be a part of President Obama's second inauguration.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) of the San Francisco 49ers and his brother, head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, before a game on Thanksgiving Day 2011. Their teams will meet again in the Super Bowl.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
President Obama took the oath for a second term yesterday, on January 20th, as the Constitution requires. The public ceremony takes place today at the Capitol, and we'll have live coverage all day long.
The dead are still being counted from last week's attack and hostage drama at a natural gas plant in the remote desert of Algeria. Among those killed are dozens of foreign workers from Britain, Japan and elsewhere, with at least one from America. To get a better understanding of what is unfolding in the region and America's role in it, we're joined by Vickie Huddleston.
All eyes will be on the First Lady Michelle Obama's fashion choices at Monday's inaugural events. Presidential fashions do make history — think Ronald Reagan's brown suits, or Jimmy Carter's cardigans.
The president of the United States, as his title suggests, is the leader of this country, but in many ways is also the leader of the world. And so we're looking at how other countries see the next four years on this Inauguration Day. India enjoyed strong relations with the Obama administration in its first term, but in a second term, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports, the South Asian giant is concerned about the uncertainty seen in American policy toward China and Afghanistan.
And the widow of a murdered Mississippi civil rights leader will help open the inaugural ceremony today. President Obama selected activist Myrlie Evers-Williams to deliver the invocation. She's the first woman and the first layperson to have the honor.
NPR's Debbie Elliott has this profile.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Evers-Williams' prominent role in President Obama's second inauguration comes in the 50th year since NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was shot to death outside his family's home in Jackson, Mississippi.
George Saunders has been writing short stories for decades.
Saunders, a professor at Syracuse University, was once a geological engineer who traveled the world; he now crafts stories that combine the absurd and fantastic with the mundane realities of everyday life. One story about a professional caveman inspired those Geico commercials.
One of the chief expectations of those who voted for President Obama is that he moves assertively to pass climate change legislation, whatever the political climate in Washington.
"We have a bipartisan common interest in moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy," says Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. "The sooner that members of both parties in Congress realize that and develop solutions, the better off we'll all be."
For years, British environmental activist Mark Lynas destroyed genetically modified food (GMO) crops in what he calls a successful campaign to force the business of agriculture to be more holistic and ecological in its practices.
His targets were companies like Monsanto and Syngenta — leaders in developing genetically modified crops.
Earlier this month he went in front of the world to reverse his position on GMOs.
"Contact with nature is not some magical elixir but the natural world is the substrate on which we must build our existence," writes Stephen Kellert in his new book Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World.
In it, he tells stories of the environment's effect on us, and ours on it. His writing builds on the traditions of Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson. Modern society, he argues, has become adversarial in its relationship to nature, having greatly undervalued the natural world beyond its narrow utility.
As Washington, D.C., gears up for the 57th presidential inauguration, political parties are in full swing. We're not talking about run-of-the-mill partisan bickering. We're talking about inaugural celebrations: balls, galas and cocktail parties. Emphasis on the cocktail.
The Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel is just a stone's throw from the White House. Bartender Jim Hewes has been serving up drinks there for nearly 30 years.