In a speech that typically stays broad and general, President Barack Obama kicked off his second term appealing to the liberal base of his party.
Climate change was a talking point, and so was poverty.
“He mentioned poverty on three different occasions, and that’s not a phrase that has come from his lips often while he’s been president,” explained Gerstein.
The president promoted his health care reform and stood up for commitments to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security at a time when some Republicans say entitlement programs need to be scaled back to reduce the deficit. “They do not make us a nation of takers,” Obama said. “They free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
The president also addressed gay rights. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president said to applause from the crowd down the National Mall, “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” It was a line that would never have been uttered in an inaugural address before, not even in Obama’s first, since he changed his position to become the first president to support gay marriage just last year.
Gerstein said the President’s speech was full of shout outs, and that in reaching out to his party, he did a lot of “box checking.”
“If you put [the discussion of poverty] together with his issues of climate change and gay rights and references to equal pay for women,” said Gerstein, “there was a lot of box checking with the liberal base of the democratic party.”
Obama never mentioned the words Democrat or Republican, yet his second inaugural address was a decidedly political speech.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.