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.


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.

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