A DIFFERENT DAY

January 21, 2013 - 10:32 AM
Inaugural Obama

Placemarks are set on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in preparation for the President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (AP Photo/Win McNamee, Pool)

Michael Oreskes, AP senior managing editor for U.S. News, weighs in on the difference between Obama's two terms at the hinge point.

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What a difference four years makes.

January 2009 was bitterly cold, but the country's mood about the new president it had elected was warmly congratulatory. Today, the weather in Washington is nippy but nicer and the mood is, well, older and wiser like the new president himself.

Crowds aren't as big, hardly a surprise for a second inaugural. Yet there is still a sense of history, magnified by the decision to delay the formal inaugural until today, Martin Luther King Day. But there is also a palpable sense among Obama s supporters that bending that arc of history takes a lot more work than they might have thought four years ago.

Those warm congratulations of early 2009 weren't the same as consensus, Obama's supporters learned. The sweep of history met the details of legislative process. The country's center had moved enough to elect, and then re-elect, Obama — but not enough to overwhelm its latent schisms or the way Capitol Hill politics had become polarized.

So Democrats enter this second term knowing that, no matter what, they go from today's celebrations to tomorrow's showdowns.

— Michael Oreskes — Twitter http://twitter.com/MichaelOreskes

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Inauguration Watch follows the events of President Barack Obama's second inaugural. Look for short items and photos throughout the day