News and updates from The Atlantic's politics team as President Obama and Vice President Biden are inaugurated for their second term

4:40 p.m.: The only two GIFs of the inauguration you need to see: First, here's a poignant image of the president leaving the Capitol stand following the ceremony. On CSPAN he could be heard saying, "I'm going to take a look one more time. I'm not going to see this again." (You can see him say it, too.) Via Gawker:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

And second, here's First Lady Michelle Obama eye-rolling intensely during the official luncheon at the Capitol, apparently at something Speaker John Boehner said. The president seemed entertained, whatever it was.


4:16 p.m.: That's logistics: How does a city prepare to balance the crush of people and the need for security at an event like the Inauguration? Over at The Atlantic Cities, Jay Westcott offers an answer in photos. Here's one shot:

Jay Westcott

3:54 p.m. The parade streams by: Watch a livestream of the Inaugural Parade below. You can read about the participants here.

3:50 p.m.: Franke-Ruta's take: Garance Franke-Ruta reports from the Capitol, writing that while the Inauguration may look glitzy on television, it's actually rather austere in person -- and perhaps that's appropriate for a nation founded by Puritans.

3:45 p.m.: How to kill the time: One of the more entertaining things about the inauguration is watching what happens when hundreds of thousands of strangers from all over the country of different ages and backgrounds kill the time when they have three hours packed in close quarters to wait for the ceremony. Here's a partial list of topics discussed in my earshot:

  • the Ravens, the Patriots, and the 49ers
  • Biz Markie
  • Satirical liberal speculation on how Fox News would cover various minor developments
  • Lee Greenwood
  • the ability to pull all-nighters
  • where people were on 9/11
  • why I (your reporter) should buy a tuxedo


2:06 p.m. Coates's take: Ta-Nehisi Coates sees Obama's speech as a sign of how far we've come as a nation. "There was a time when merely stating the ideas Obama put forth would have gotten you killed," he writes. Read his thoughts here.

1:52 p.m.: The anarchist counter-parade:



1:48 p.m.: No change, just hope: This year's inauguration might not be as big as 2009's, but many of the same people are in attendance. Repeat visitors, some in gear from Obama's first inaugural, are everywhere. One group was the Humiston kids, who came down from Massachusetts with their grandparents Fran and Don Freeman. "The atmosphere is not as fresh" as the 2009 celebration, said high schooler Sierra. "There's not change, just hope."

Still, Fran had made friends with the women around her, from all different backgrounds, and loved the feeling of togetherness. Sierra was excited about the inauguration because this was the first presidential ballot she could cast, and she had campaigned at school and posted large Obama signs on the horses at the family's farm on Election Day.

One part of Obama's address had special resonance for the family: his mention of Newtown, Connecticut. On the way down to D.C., they stopped in the tragedy-stricken town, and found the mood still somber. Helping the town recover, Don Freeman said, will be a challenge for the nation in the year to come. -DAG

1:42 p.m.: Obama's call to action: Shortly after being ceremonially sworn in, Obama sent an email to his campaign supporters thanking them for their support and asking them to stay involved. Organizing for Action, the independent nonprofit chaired by former campaign manager Jim Messina, is expected to play a major role in the policy fights ahead, rallying supporters around the president's priorities. Democrats hope Obama can keep his base energized around issues such as gun control, immigration, and the environment, something he's been faulted for failing to do four years ago.

Here's the text of Obama's email:

Friend --

I just renewed my oath of office to serve as your president for four more years.

Thank you for making this possible. It's an honor to be your president.

Now it's time to finish what we started -- let's get going.


P.S. -- Organizing for Action is the next step in our grassroots movement and will be crucial to finishing what we started. If you haven't already, say you'll be part of it.


1:32 p.m.: The inauguration in photos: Check out Alan Taylor's In Focus gallery of inauguration images here, including this delightful Reuters shot of stand-ins at an inaugural dress rehearsal.


1:12 p.m.: A perspective from the crowd: While the big shots got to sit on the stand with the president, the foot soldiers who helped reelect Obama were using those same feet to stand for hours in the shadow of the Capitol. They exchanged tips on how to dance for Tuesday's staff ball (well) and what they were doing now that the election is over (not much, mostly).

Alia Awadallah, an Ohioan, had been living northern Virginia but headed back to her home state last fall to working as a field director in Tiffin, a small town in north-central Ohio. It was nerve-racking work: The young people she was trying to recruit seemed complacently sure that Obama would win, and being in the key swing state "felt like the whole nation was relying on you." Now came celebration -- her favorite part of the whole cycle, she said. -DAG

12:55 p.m.: Fallows' take: James Fallows finds Obama's speech strikingly progressive. Four years ago, observers were expecting a barn-burner but got a muted, sober address; this time, Fallows writes, we were expecting something generic but got instead a daring statement of principle. "If anyone were wondering whether Obama wanted to lower expectations for his second term ... no, he apparently does not." Read his thoughts here.

12:45 p.m.: Obama's speech was followed by Kelly Clarkson singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee"; the reading of the inaugural poem by Richard Blanco; a benediction by Reverend Luis Leon; and the National Anthem preformed by Beyonce. The president then returned to the White House to sign an inaugural proclamation and a bundle of nominations for his second-term Cabinet: John Brennan for CIA director, Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, John Kerry for secretary of state, and Jack Lew for treasury secretary. Next: Obama heads to lunch, and the inaugural parade proceeds through Washington. -MB

12:09 p.m.: "My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together." Collective action is the central theme of Obama's second inaugural address. The president emphasized preserving entitlements, addressing the threat of climate change, and supporting democracy and human rights around the world. He listed equal pay for women, equal rights for gays and lesbians, improving the voting process, fixing immigration, and curbing gun violence as priorities. "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said. "We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect." -MB

12:00 p.m.: Obama kicks off his second term with a short speech that invokes history to call for communal effort to solve the nation's problems. An excerpt:

It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. 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. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. 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.

11:50 a.m.: Obama has been ceremonially sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. He'll speak next. -MB

11:48 a.m.: Vice President Biden is sworn in on an immense family Bible. It's just a ceremonial reenactment -- Obama and Biden were both officially sworn in in a private ceremony Sunday. Next up: James Taylor. -MB

11:29 a.m.: In an apparent departure from precedent, the president's name is being announced today as "Barack H. Obama." Both the PA announcer and Senator Schumer have used the middle initial. The president's unusual middle name is usually unspoken -- during the 2008 campaign, uttering it was seen as a quasi-racist dog whistle -- or, on some formal occasions, used in full. -MB

11:22 a.m.: Obama has taken the stage, to cheers from the chilly-looking crowd. He's followed by Senator Chuck Schumer, the chairman of the inauguration, and congressional leaders. -MB

11:05 a.m.: A reporter's-eye view: Garance Franke-Ruta sends these snapshots from her spot near the inaugural podium.


10:39 a.m.: The crowd on the Mall cheers as they watch the presidential motorcade arrive at the Capitol on giant Jumbotron screens. Marie Black, who lives in the area and also attended the 2009 inauguration, said there's still excitement, but this time feels different. "Four years ago, I knew everyone's name around me and where they came from. There was such energy and oneness in the air," she said. "It was so historic, I think that's what was so meaningful about it. And the last campaign was cleaner, too." -DAG

10:33 a.m.: Though the official inaugural balls are tonight, much of the party action occurred over the weekend. But one Sunday night celebration went awry when rapper Lupe Fiasco wandered off on a 30-minute anti-Obama rant, including such lines as "I ain't vote for him, next one either." He was then asked to leave the stage. Read the Atlantic Wire report here. -MB

9:55 a.m.: Forget the president's speech -- surely today's real suspense revolves around what Michelle Obama will be wearing. Here's the word, from a White House official:

The First Lady is wearing a navy Thom Browne coat and dress. The fabric was developed based on the style of a men's silk tie. The belt she is wearing is from J.Crew, the cardigan is designed by Reed Krakoff and her necklace is designed by Cathy Waterman. She is also wearing J.Crew shoes. At the end of the Inaugural festivities, the outfit and accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives.

Malia Obama is wearing a J.Crew ensemble. Sasha Obama is wearing a Kate Spade coat and dress.

The Obamas have just arrived back at the White House after a morning service at St. John's Episcopal Church. Here's a photo of Michelle Obama's coat:



And the president appears to have tweeted from church:

Obama is now scheduled to sit down for coffee with congressional leaders. -MB

9:38 a.m.: On the south slope of the Capitol, there's some impromptu entertainment from an anti-abortion protester perched in a pine tree, brandishing a "Pray to End Abortion" sign and accosting the crowd. Some folks are occasionally chanting "get him down," but mostly they're watching quizzically and wondering how soon he'll get tired or fall. -DAG


David A. Graham

9 a.m.: The day may end with a party, but it starts with long, slow-moving security lines. -DAG


8 a.m.: Monday marks the official inauguration for President Barack Obama's second term. The president will take the oath of office at 11:30 a.m. on the West Capitol Steps. (Both he and Vice President Biden previously took the oath on Sunday, as prescribed by the Constitution, but will take second ceremonial oaths today.) Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil-rights leader Medgar Evers will give the invocation; James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson will perform during the ceremony; Richard Blanco is the inaugural poet; the Rev. Luis Leon will deliver the benediction; and Beyonce will sing the National Anthem. The inaugural parade gets under way around 2:30. The Atlantic's politics team will be on the scene, bringing you news and updates throughout the day, so check back for updates.

Be sure to read Thomas Geoghegan's explanation of why Obama should take a cue from Puritan leader John Winthrop's famous "City upon a Hill" speech. See a photographic history of Obama's first term on In Focus. And look at a gallery of Obama's first inauguration in 2009:

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to