Obama officially begins 2nd term as US president
By Matt Spetalnick ,ReutersWASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama officially began his second term yesterday with a small, private swearing-in ceremony at the White House, setting a more subdued tone for his second inauguration than his historic swearing-in four years ago.
January 21, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Sunday's events began when Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, making her the first Hispanic judge to ever administer an oath of office for one of the nation's two highest offices.
Obama was to be sworn in at the White House around 11:55 a.m. EST (1655 GMT).
Obama will still be sworn in publicly outside the U.S. Capitol on Monday with all the traditional pomp, but that event will be mostly for show.
Technically, Sunday is the only one that really counts according to the Constitution, which mandates that the president take office on Jan. 20.
Compared to the momentous atmosphere of Obama's first inauguration, the mood will be different this time.
A bitter 2012 election fight, stubbornly high unemployment and fiscal showdowns — both past and still looming — have tempered the hope that Obama symbolized when he took office four years ago after sweeping to victory on a mantle of change as America's first black president.
This time the crowds are expected to be smaller and enthusiasm surrounding the event diminished.
“For a lot of people, this is kind of old hat,” said Russell Riley, an expert on presidential rhetoric at the University of Virginia. “The newness and excitement around the president's first history-making inauguration has given way to time-worn political reality.”
Early Sunday morning, Biden's family, about 120 guests and a few reporters witnessed the private swearing-in ceremony in the main foyer of his Naval Observatory residence. Biden used a bible with a Celtic cross on the cover that has been in his family since 1893.
Leading Democrats including House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attended the low-key ceremony which took about 5 minutes.
Obama was to be sworn in yesterday following a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony will be private - except for a limited media presence — with a small audience of mostly family members gathered in the Blue Room.
Obama and Biden will repeat the oath of office the next day in the customary ceremony on a giant platform outside the West Front of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall. Ronald Reagan in 1985 was the last president to take the oath twice to avoid holding Inauguration Day festivities on a Sunday.
Both times, Obama will be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts who, after flubbing the oath the first time in 2009, administered it to Obama again in the White House the day after his inauguration. Biden is to be sworn in again by Sotomayor.