The Washington Times - January 21, 2013, 07:33AM

Updated at 4:16 p.m.

President Obama and the first lady passed by City Hall with enthusiastic waves from the back seat of their shiny limousine, but did not offer the grand acknowledgment that D.C. leaders may have hoped for.

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Although the first couple walked the route for portions of today’s inauguration parade, Mr. Obama was seated on the right side of his limo away from the John A. Wilson Building while Michelle Obama offered waves and two thumbs up to enthusiastic and screaming crowds in front of city hall.

The heavily Democratic city got its first up-close look at the president’s “Taxation Without Representation” license plates. Still, the city’s leaders did not get a up-close look at the leader’s face or the chance to interact with him from behind the glass of their heated reviewing stand.

— Tom Howell Jr.

Updated at 3:15 p.m.

Standing on the East Front steps of the Capitol, President Obama held a traditional Inauguration Day review of the troops before heading back to the White House for the inaugural parade and round over evening celebratory balls.

— David R. Sands

Updated at 2:59 p.m.

A congressional luncheon to honor President Obama has wrapped up on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan gathering marked by numerous toasts and gifts of hand-cut Lenox crystal vases for Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden. The president’s vase has his name and the date on it, while the vice president’s has the U.S. Capitol etched on it.

The luncheon, held in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, is a tradition dating back to the late 19th century.

In his own toast, Mr. Obama hailed departing and incoming members of his second-term Cabinet and also the families of all officials and lawmakers who make sacrifices in the name of public service.

— David R. Sands

Updated at 2:06 p.m.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said it “would’ve been nice” to hear President Obama mention the city’s fight for voting rights during his inaugural address before millions of viewers Monday morning.

However, Mr. Gray said, the president will have another opportunity to address the District of Columbia’s plight during his State of the Union address next month.

Galvanized by his re-election, Mr. Obama highlighted an ambitious agenda for the next four years in his speech. Topics such as gun control, immigration and the nation’s fiscal stability will trump D.C. issues for now, locals admit, but they would like to see Mr. Obama stir up momentum for full voting rights or even D.C. statehood.

Mr. Obama signaled he is more willing to support the District by installing D.C. plates with the motto “Taxation Without Representation” on his presidential limousine.

“We hope not only to see [the plates],” Mr. Gray said Monday. “we hope it’s the beginning.”

— Tom Howell Jr.

Updated at 1:21 p.m.

Beating plastic bucket drums and holding peace signs and black cloth flags, a group of about 40 protesters gathered in McPherson Square at noon as President Obama was being sworn in.

“We’re making it clear that there is nothing to celebrate,” said Brian, who would only give his first name, but is associated with the environmental group Earth First. “We’re trying to cut through this false idea that Obama has been good for the environment. That’s why we’re here today.”

As the group assembled, preparing to march, a young woman pointed out a man she believed to be an undercover police officer and warned others on a bullhorn of his presence. Uniformed police stood nearby, watching the group as they gathered but having little interaction other than exchanging glances.

— David R. Sands

Updated at 1:12 p.m.

President Obama’s inaugural address was well received by the hundreds of thousands of people who trekked downtown to watch the ceremony and began making for the exits as soon as the speech concluded.

“I think it’s fantastic. I enjoyed it. We’ve come a long way as a country, but we have a lot of work to do,” said Lynise Trace, 54, of Kissimmee, Fla. Ms. Trace came to Washington with a group of 500 from Florida.

Marissa Joseph, 26, of New Iberia, La., said the president’s speech was also meaningful, coming as it did on the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

“Just being here and being able to hear him is amazing,” she said. “All those people who fought for us to be here, I’m witnessing the fruits of their labor.”

Many in the crowd did not wait until the end of the program but began making their way to exits after Mr. Obama’s speech, streaming from the Mall and the area around Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and creating more long lines at downtown Metro stations.

Audrey Black-Tureaud, 53, of West Palm Beach, Fla., said that despite the lines and the crowds, seeing the inauguration in person was well worth it.

“I’ve watched them on TV, but it’s nothing like actually being here and seeing all the different kinds of people,” she said.

— David R. Sands

12:45 p.m.

President Obama has signed a string of documents officially submitting some of his top personnel picks for his second term to Congress.

Mr. Obama signed the documents inside the Capitol surrounded by congressional leaders just 20 minutes after having delivered his inaugural address at the public swearing-ceremony held on the building’s West Front facing the National Mall.

He was then heading to the traditional lunch hosted by congressional leaders in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. At the luncheon with approximately 200 guests, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden will be presented with official gifts from the Congress on behalf of the American people.

The document-signing is a traditional Inauguration Day chore for the president, first established by President Reagan shortly after he took the oath of office.

Among the nominations Mr. Obama submitted: John Brennan to be CIA director; former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense; Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state; and Jack Lew to be secretary of the treasury.

Seated at a table in the Capitol’s ornate President’s Room off the Senate chamber, Mr. Obama — who has seen some of his nominations face tough sailing on Capital Hill — joked, “I know they will be dealt with with great dispatch.”

— David R. Sands

Updated at 12:45 p.m.

Invoking a diverse nation living under a single sky, poet Richard Blanco delivered an inaugural poem that celebrated America’s diversity.

The 44-year-old poet invoked scenes from the hearth to the heavens, from the Appalachians to the Rockies in his unrhymed verse titled “One Today,” delivered just before pop superstar Beyonce led the enthusiastic crowd in the singing of the national anthem. He also worked in references to his own immigrant experience growing up as an exile from Castro’s Cuba in New York and Miami.

The poem’s conclusion:

“We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always
— home, always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.”

Mr. Blanco has published three books of poetry while maintaining his career as a consulting engineer.

— David R. Sands

Forging into the final half of his historic presidency, Barack Obama urged the nation at his second inauguration Monday to work together on America’s “limitless possibilities,” from reversing climate change to strengthening the social safety net.

Click here to read more.

— Dave Boyer

Updated 12:20 p.m.

It wasn’t the star-studded audience of four years ago, but several celebrities were in the seats just in front of the platform where President Obama took the oath of office on Monday, including singers Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and John Mayer.

The latter two were led to seats at the back of the press section, while Mr. Wonder was taken with his entourage to seats up in the second row.

— Stephen Dinan

Updated 12:02 p.m.

While a crowd considerably smaller than the one that attended the 2009 inauguration turned out to see President Obama’s second swearing-in celebration, many people were left outside checkpoints with the ceremony well under way.

By 11:30 a.m., officials announced all entry points to the Mall had been closed and advised visitors to go to an overflow area at the Washington Monument.

At a checkpoint at First and D Streets in Northwest, lines still stretched a full city block to get into the parade route by the time Mr. Obama was sworn in just before noon, with people needing to be screened after that. Cups, bottles and Thermoses were piled high where security personnel confiscated liquids, and lawn chairs and umbrellas sat around overflowing trash cans.

Pamela Frazier, 62, of Chicago, waited two hours to get into the parade route. She brought four of her grandchildren, who were between the ages of 12 and 16 — three of whom had accompanied her to the inauguration in 2009.

“I want my grandkids to see this again and be a part of history,” she said.

— David R. Sands

Updated 11:51 a.m.

President Obama has been sworn in for a second term in a public ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol.

Unlike four years ago, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Mr. Obama performed the presidential oath of office flawlessly. The 2009 ceremony was marred by several mistakes, requiring a private do-over the next day at the White House.

— David R. Sands


Updated 11:49 a.m.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has administered the oath of office to Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

After administering the oath, Justice Sotomayor offered congratulations to the vice president. The justice, appointed by President Obama and the first Hispanic woman to serve on the high court, received a loud cheer when she was introduced.

As with President Obama, Mr. Biden was officially sworn in the day before by the justice in a private ceremony Sunday at the vice presidential residence.

The vice presidential oath was followed by singer James Taylor with a brief version of “American the Beautiful.”

— David R. Sands


Updated 11:22 a.m.

President Obama has arrived at the West Front stand where he will publicly mark the beginning of his second term with a swearing-in ceremony and an inaugural address.

Mr. Obama was immediately preceded to the temporary stage by string of members of the presidential and vice presidential families, led by his daughters Sasha and Malia. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, was then escorted in, followed by first lady Michelle Obama.

The Obama women were all dressed in tasteful subdued tones, with the first lady wearing a navy-silk, checkered-patterned coat and dress by designer Thom Brownee.

The rest of her Inauguration Day outfit included a belt from J. Crew, necklace by Cathy Waterman and a cardigan by Reed Krakoff, whose ensemble she also wore to yesterday’s intimate, indoor swearing-in ceremony, according to the Associated Press.

Malia Obama had on a plum-colored J. Crew coat with the hemline of an electric-blue dress peeking out and a burgundy-colored scarf, and her younger sister Sasha had on a Kate Spade coat and dress in a similar purple shade.

Mr. Biden was the last to enter before Mr. Obama was announced.

The crowd gathered on the Mall — although significantly smaller than the throngs that gathered four years ago — gave out a loud cheer as each new member of the official delegation was announced.

— David R. Sands

— This update is based in part on wire service reports.

Updated at 11:08 a.m.

D.C. lawmakers decided to fly a version of the city flag with the slogan “Taxation Without Representation” above the reviewing stand at city hall along President Obama’s parade route up Pennsylvania Avenue.

Mr. Obama has embraced the motto on his presidential limousine, which sported standard-issue D.C. license plates with the slogan for the first time during inauguration festivities. He will keep them for the remainder of his term, officials have said.

Parade-goers got a quick glimpse of the new plates as Mr. Obama’s motorcade headed from the White House to the U.S. Capitol for his public swearing-in.

The slogan calls attention to the District’s payment of federal taxes, despite having no voting representative in the Senate or House of Representatives like the 50 states.

More than 630,000 people live in the nation’s capital, or more than Wyoming and Vermont, according to census estimates.

— Tom Howell Jr.

Updated at 11:06 a.m.

President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden have arrived at the U.S. Capitol for Mr. Obama’s second inaugural address and celebration.

Dressed in a black suit and light blue tie, Mr. Obama climbed the steps of Capitol’s East Front, shaking hands and greeting well-wishers as he made his way through the halls of Congress.

As Mr. Obama entered, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were making their way to the West Front stand where Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and a large delegation of lawmakers awaited the president.

Former President Jimmy Carter and wife, Rosalynn, also were escorted to their seats just minutes before Mr. Obama and his family were set to make their appearance on the cold and slightly overcast morning.

— David R. Sands

 

Updated at 11:02 a.m.

Metro officials reported that downtown travel Monday morning was significantly smoother than four years ago, with ridership at 266,000 as of 10 a.m. — just more than half of what it was on Mr. Obama’s first inaugural celebration in 2009.

Several parking garages filled early. Metro officials by midmorning said no spaces were available at the Greenbelt, Fort Totten, Rhode Island Avenue, Vienna South, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield and East Falls Church stations.

Checkpoints at the Capitol were jammed, but security personnel moved people through quickly.

“Everybody’s being pretty patient. It’s more organized,” said Michael Moss, 62, of Louisville, Ky., comparing the lines with what he experienced attending the 2009 inauguration. Mr. Moss and his wife were buying $5 hand warmers from a vendor near the checkpoint at First and D streets Northwest.

Frances Lippette, 70, of Raleigh, N.C., was decked out in Obama campaign buttons.

“There’s not as many people, but it’s still just as exciting for me,” she said.

— David R. Sands

Updated at 10:51 a.m.

President Obama has entered the presidential limousine for the short drive from the White House to the Capitol for the public celebration of his second inauguration.

Mr. Obama walked with New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, to the limousine, which was bearing the District of Columbia’s “Taxation Without Representation” license plates.

Crowds already filling temporary risers along the route cheered as the motorcade traveled on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest to the Capitol for the ceremonies, set to begin at 11:20 a.m.

David R. Sands

Updated at 10:44 a.m.

The congressional delegation filing into the stands where President Obama will deliver his second inaugural address Monday morning included at least one lawmaker who had hoped to be in a better seat.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, was part of the bipartisan delegation filing into the temporary stands on the West Front of the Capitol. He was GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in the 2012 election.

Two other men who had hoped for a different role were also part of the delegation — Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the failed Democratic nominee in 2004, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, who lost to Mr. Obama in 2008.

Mr. Romney, who had a private lunch with Mr. Obama at the White House shortly after the election, is not attending the inauguration. Also staying away are former Presidents George H.W. Bush, who has been ailing, and George W. Bush.

— David R. Sands

Updated at 10:39 a.m.

President Obama was urged to use the immense power of his office to do good at the traditional church service Monday morning just hours ahead of his public second inauguration ceremony.

With the families of Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the pews at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House, the Rev. Andy Stanley, pastor of the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., asked in his sermon what a person’s responsibilities are when he realizes he is the most important person at a gathering.

The cleric said it was that person’s responsibility to leverage that power in the service of others, according to The Associated Press.

Addressing Mr. Obama directly, Mr. Stanley said, “Mr. President, you have an awfully big room. It’s as big as our nation.”

The AP reported that Mr. Obama stood for a blessing from Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the 10th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She prayed for the president to be a “soothing presence in the White House when the stress and strain of leadership seeks a resting place.”

The presidential motorcade left after the nearly hourlong service to return to the White House, where a bipartisan delegation from Congress was waiting to escort him to the Capitol for the ceremonies set to begin at 11:20 a.m.

Mr. Obama was the subject of another prominent cleric’s thoughts as the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, the House chaplain, opened a brief session of the House of Representatives with some thoughts as Mr. Obama embarks on his second term.

The Catholic priest prayed that Mr. Obama “be strengthened in his work and grow in understanding as he proves ever more responsive to the people.”

— David R. Sands


Updated at 10:31 a.m.

In a milestone denied his 43 predecessors, President Obama officially became the first president to tweet on his Inauguration Day.

“I’m honored and grateful that we have a chance to finish what we started. Our work begins today. Let’s go,” the presidential tweet released early Monday morning read.

The message was signed “-bo” — the designation Mr. Obama uses when he composes the messages himself on his Twitter feed at @BarackObama.

The president wasn’t the only top politico using social media to chronicle the events of the day.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, let his followers chart his progress as he joined the congressional motorcade heading to the White House to escort the first family to the ceremonies at the Capitol.

“Headed to the @whitehouse with my wife Diana for coffee with the President, Vice President and their lovely wives,” Mr. Cantor tweeted.

David R. Sands

Updated at 10:26 a.m.

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams was among the throng of city residents and visitors filing into the center of Washington on Monday morning, a day on which even VIPs have to trek to enjoy festivities along the National Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

Sporting a cap of the D.C. United soccer team, Mr. Williams rode by subway to Metro Center and was complimented by a passer-by who said he did a “fine job” as mayor from 1998 to 2006, a time of transformation as the District of Columbia got its fiscal house in order.

Above ground, newly elected D.C. Council member David Grosso, at-large independent, was among the horde of people walking from Federal Triangle to the barricaded parade route.

Mr. Grosso said Mr. Obama should have the freedom in his second term to promote his vision for residents of the nation’s capital.

“I think that’s true with a lot of issues, and ours as well,” he said.

— Tom Howell Jr.

Updated at 10:14 a.m.

President Obama was urged to use the immense power of his office to do good at the traditional church service Monday morning just hours ahead of his public second inauguration ceremony.

With the families of Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the pews at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House, the Rev. Andy Stanley, pastor of the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., asked in his sermon what a person’s responsibilities are when he realizes he is the most important person at a gathering.

The cleric said it was that person’s responsibility to leverage that power in the service of others, according to the Associated Press.

Addressing Mr. Obama directly, Mr. Stanley said, “Mr. President, you have an awfully big room.”

The presidential motorcade left after the nearly hourlong service to return to the White House, where a bipartisan delegation from Congress was waiting to escort him to the Capitol for the ceremonies set to begin at 11:20 a.m.

Mr. Obama was the subject of another prominent cleric’s thoughts as the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, the House chaplain, opened a brief session of the House of Representatives with some thoughts as Mr. Obama embarks on his second term.

The Catholic priest prayed that Mr. Obama “be strengthened in his work and grow in understanding as he proves ever more responsive to the people.”

David R. Sands

Updated at 10:10 a.m.

There are two official inaugural balls Monday night — and at least one unofficial “Disinauguration Ball.”

As people filed into the National Mall for inaugural ceremonies on a cold Monday morning, they were handed small pamphlets inviting them to the “Disinauguration Ball” on Monday night in Arlington.

“Democracy, as the American founders described it, was like two wolves and a sheep deciding on what’s for dinner,” reads the invitation, complete with a “Not My President” banner across the top.

The flier notes that 60 percent of all Americans “did not try to impose their choice of leader on the rest of you!”
“We refuse to acknowledge unjust authority,” it reads. “To the extent we can, we refuse to comply. We refuse to be sheep. You can have a President, we will choose to be free. Sincerely, The Disinaugurators.”

For those interested, the Disinauguration Ball is from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Clarendon Grill, 1101 N. Highland St. in Arlington.

David Sherfinski

Updated at 9:45 a.m.

It doesn’t have the numbers or the history-breaking vibe of four years ago, but many in the crowd gathering Monday morning said they still found a special satisfaction in President Obama’s second inaugural celebration.

Zuri Murrell, a physician from Los Angeles, said he made a point of traveling to Washington this time after not attending four years ago.

“I still feel like it’s a historic event — I want my children to be a part of it,” he said.

Jabari Reeves of San Francisco chimed in, nodding toward his young daughters.

“Just being African-American,” he said. “Showing our children that they can be anything they want to be.”

By coincidence, Mr. Obama’s swearing-in falls on the official Martin Luther King holiday. Mr. Obama will use Dr. King’s Bible as part of the ceremony as he is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

“I think I’m more thrilled this time around,” said the Rev. Eugene Williams Sr., an adjunct professor of English at the University of the District of Columbia. “When you’re 75 years old and have seen some of the things you’re seen as an African-American, I don’t think you can forget how special an event like this is.”

A spokesman for the Metro transit system told the Associated Press that some 113,000 riders had boarded trains as of 8 a.m. Officials also hope more and earlier signs, and additional metal detectors, will ease congestion.

“It’s coming. It’s steady, but it’s coming,” said Donald, a vendor from D.C. who declined to give his last name, of business.

He noted, however, that the traffic for T-shirts was far heavier four years ago.

“It was much better then, because it was the first time he was sworn in,” he said. “They were walking in the street, it was so many people.”

— David R. Sands

Updated at 9:38 a.m.

A congressional delegation made its way by motorcade down Pennsylvania Avenue to escort President Obama and his family to the Capitol for his second inaugural celebrations.

The Obamas and the family of Vice President Joseph R. Biden were still in services at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square as the bipartisan delegation arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The president and his family emerged from the church to cheers from a throng of admirers at 9:37.

The president waved to the crowd but made no remarks before getting back into the presidential limousine for the drive back to the White House.

A spokesman for the Metro transit system told The Associated Press that some 113,000 riders had boarded trains as of 8 a.m. Officials also hope more and earlier signs, and additional metal detectors, will ease congestion. One glitch developed when Metro officials closed the exits at the Federal Center SW station, forcing many attendees to exit farther from the National Mall.

— David R. Sands

Updated at 9 a.m.

President Obama and the first family left the White House just after 8:30 a.m. for the block-long drive to St. John’s Church across Lafayette Square for the first public event of his second inaugural celebration Monday.

Mr. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and Mrs. Obama’s mother entered the church for the private service about 8:35 a.m. — just three hours before Mr. Obama was to take his place at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, before a crowd estimated at some 800,000.

Minutes later, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, his wife Jill and son Beau Biden also made their way into the church, stopping as did the Obamas to meet briefly with the Rev. Luis Leon, the St. John’s rector who will deliver the inaugural benediction later Monday morning.

Mr. Obama was officially sworn in just before noon in a private ceremony Sunday at the White House, but the public event was saved for Monday. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to incorporate a service at St. John’s into his inaugural ceremony, and Rev. Leon has preached a number of times for both the Obama family and the family of predecessor George W. Bush.

Monday’s crowd, gathering on a cold but clear morning that also marked the official commemoration of Martin Luther King Day, was projected to be significantly smaller than the record-shattering throng that gathered in 2008 for Mr. Obama’s first inaugural, but would still rank as one of the largest inaugural gatherings in American history.

Obama jackets and shirts were ubiquitous as the crowd navigated through heavy security that has left most of the monumental capital closed down to vehicles.

At least some of those preparing to mark Mr. Obama’s second inaugural said it was more satisfying this time around, despite the smaller turnout.

“I think I’m more thrilled this time around,” said the Rev. Eugene Williams Sr., an adjunct professor of English at the University of the District of Columbia. “When you’re 75 years old and have seen some of the things you’re seen as an African-American, I don’t think you can forget how special an event like this is.”

Mr. Obama will use Dr. King’s Bible as part of the ceremony as he is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has vowed to try to tamp down on some of the problems that plagued Mr. Obama’s first swearing-in ceremony, including many ticket holders who were unable to make it to their places on the National Mall on a freezing cold day. Signs directing those in flocking to the Mall were far more visible this year.

— David R. Sands and Stephen Dinan

Updated at 8:26 a.m.

Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers for President Obama were streaming onto the National Mall in front of the Capitol early Monday morning in anticipation of the ceremonial inauguration.

Mr. Obama was officially sworn in just before noon on Sunday in a private ceremony, but the public event was saved for Monday.

Obama jackets and shirts were ubiquitous as the crowd navigated through heavy security that has left most of the monumental capital closed down to vehicles.

Officials are expecting up to 700,000 people to come for the ceremony, which would be far fewer than 2009’s historic inauguration but would still be one of the larger ones in history.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has vowed to try to tamp down on some of the problems that plagues last time, and signs directing folks where to go are far more visible this year.

— Stephen Dinan

Updated at 7:33 a.m.

If you are commuting to Washington, D.C., Monday morning for work or heading to President Obama’s inauguration, you’ll find traffic moving swiftly, although the police are out in force.

Mr. Obama was officially sworn in on Sunday, but he will have his ceremonial swearing-in on Monday, which also happens to be Martin Luther King Day, a holiday.

Metro lots and trains are not full, WTOP reported. But that could change as the day progresses.

— Maria Stainer