Crowds greater than at any second inauguration
“On the tasks he faces I feel comforted that he and Congress will accomplish those and there will be compromises, and the American people will agree to those,” she says.
She doesn’t blame Obama for failing to introduce enough of the change he promised and she believes that the drive that swept him to power in 2008 did not desert him.
“It was there all the time but he really just has to assert himself,” she said.
Walking down from Union Station, north of the Capitol, Peter Koehler from Pittsburgh is attending the inauguration with his wife, nephew and sister who is visiting from Germany.
“Obama is more aggressive now; he’s drawing the line with the Republicans. He tried to be accommodating four years ago and it didn’t get him anywhere,” says Koehler. “He still doesn’t know how to schmooze – it is his nature; he is cerebral. He is not warm and fuzzy.”
Janis Blake, a retired telecoms worker from Columbus, Ohio, is proud that her state swung it for Obama’s re-election but acknowledges that the inaugural crowd is smaller this time around. The president has shown more confidence recently, she says.
“He feels more comfortable in his position now that he has confirmed his position by being re-elected. I really thought he could do more with the Republicans and Congress,” she says. “I think he will show his worth this term. The Republicans tried to stop him at every turn. That is why he is doing what he is doing now and taking such action.”
Two blocks east of the Capitol, Richard O’Mahoney, a respiratory therapist from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, holds a metre-tall bloodied crucifix and leads a group of Catholic anti-abortion protesters.
“The nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope,” he repeatedly shouts. He describes Obama as the most pro-abortion president in American history.
Further down the street, a lone man shouts protests of a different kind as he strides past Obama supporters: “Stop the drone attacks in Afghanistan, stop the drone attacks in Pakistan.
“It infuriates me that so many people support Obama and that he won the Nobel Peace Prize. I voted for him in 2008 and I cried when he was elected,” said the protester who didn’t want to be named but said he lives in Washington DC. I believe that Obama has normalised Bush-era transgressions against civil liberties. We were speaking so loudly about this during the Bush administration but now you don’t hear anything.”
Asked where he was walking to while making his protest, he said: “As far away from this inauguration as possible.”