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  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Obama’s Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War

    President Obama, Air Force chief of staff General Mark A. Welsh III, and Vice President Joe Biden talk during the inauguration. Credit: Flickr/DoD.Originally posted on Informed Comment.President Obama addressed the big issues of war and peace in his inaugural address, and despite the vagueness of some of his pronouncements, they contain strong clues to his foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. His announced policy will be one of ending U.S. military engagements abroad, multilateral cooperation with allies to face security challenges, negotiation, and avoidance of further military entanglements in the Middle East. In other words, Syrians are on their own, France can have Mali, and Iran is probably not going to be bombed.

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Obama's Second Inaugural Loaded with History

    Barack Obama at his inauguration. Credit: Flickr/afagen.Barack Obama has always had a keen sense of history, both how to make it and to talk about it. He consistently offers an inclusive, unifying narrative of our country’s past that helps explain his conception of our national identity. We can see this clearly in his second inaugural address.

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Lawrence D. Bobo: Obama's Velvet-Glove Inaugural Address

    Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. (The Root) -- Obama deserves very high but perhaps not superlative marks for his second inaugural address. It had more the character of an inside-the-park home run, not a grand slam. A 9 on my Olympic scorecard, not a full 10. Not a standout, A-plus effort, but certainly a quite solid A-minus. The speech will indeed be remembered, but probably not as one of his signature moments. In the same breath, let me say there is much that is clever and true and oh so right about this speech that is well worthy of praise.Why not an A? First, save for his declarations about confronting global warming, the speech was a little too oblique in naming the current great challenges before us. He rightly did not want to sound a partisan note. And he understandably did not launch into a list of coming policy goals. But the paralysis in Washington brought on by the politics of economic brinkmanship, of the "my way or the highway" negotiation and of anti-government ideological extremity could have been called out more squarely.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Paul Krugman: Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall

    In his speech, Obama invoked the history of struggles for equality with a remarkable triptych: Seneca (women’s rights), Selma (black rights), and Stonewall (gay rights). And there has been remarkably little blowback — a sign of how much the country has changed.What many people may not realize is how recent those changes are. Gay rights may be relatively obvious — it’s just 8 years since opposition to gay marriage arguably played a significant role in Bush’s victory. But the big changes on the racial front are also more recent than widely imagined (obligatory disclaimer — yes, there’s a lot of racism remaining, and it can be truly ugly; we’re just talking about relative changes)....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Jim Bendat on the history of presidential inaugurations

    Jim Bendat is an expert on U.S. presidential inauguration history, and has written the book “Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President 1789-2013.” Bendat spoke with Tom Fox, who is a guest writer of the Washington Post’s Federal Coach blog and vice president for leadership and innovation at the Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up the Partnership’s Center for Government Leadership.Can you reflect on some of your favorite leadership moments from past inaugurations?

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Obama invokes gay rights in inaugural address

    President Obama on Monday became the first president to use the word “gay” as a reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural address, declaring the movement for equality to be part of the pantheon of America’s great civil rights struggles.“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president said. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”Obama also made another reference in the speech to gay equality. He placed the 1969 riot protesting a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, as a signature event in the civil rights movement — and ranked it with historical turning points in the battles for women’s and racial equality....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Martin Luther King Jr. honored as Obama, nation’s first black president, sworn in to new term

    ATLANTA — The youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hailed the inauguration of the nation’s first black president to a new term as one of the achievements made possible by the civil rights struggle her father helped lead decades ago.Bernice King spoke at an Atlanta service Monday on the federal King holiday, urging Americans to draw inspiration from her slain father’s nonviolent campaign after a difficult year of military conflicts abroad and natural disasters at home.“We pray that this day will be the beginning of a new day in America,” she said. “It will be a day when people draw inspiration from the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It will be a day when people realize and recognize that if it were not for Dr. King and those who fought the fight fought in that movement, we would not be celebrating this presidency.”...

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Curators from Smithsonian’s new black history museum scout for artifacts at Obama’s inaugural

    WASHINGTON — As crowds descended and the inauguration unfolded, a few museum curators in Washington kept watch for symbols and messages that would make history.The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will open during President Barack Obama’s second term, and one section will feature a large display about the first black president. Curators have been working since 2008 to gather objects, documents and images that capture his place in history.Curator William Pretzer ventured into the crowd Monday, mostly looking for memorabilia that had a personal touch — beyond the T-shirts and buttons hawked by vendors. Pretzer was most interested in handmade items, but he didn’t find much....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Stephen Prothero: Obama Delivers Lincoln's Third Inaugural

    Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.Equality. That's what today's inauguration was about. And we have Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to thank for it.President Obama took his oath of office on two Bibles: one used by Lincoln during his 1861 inauguration, the other the “traveling Bible” of Dr. King. And during his second inaugural address, Obama read U.S. history through the words and actions of these two men.In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln turned to Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence to argue that the United States was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In his "I Have a Dream" speech, King argued that our national commitment to equality demanded that we emancipate ourselves from segregation as well as slavery.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Americans Want a Good Inauguration Show -- Corporate Funding or Not

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University and is currently teaching a three-week course at NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson walked from a nearby boardinghouse to the Capitol to be inaugurated as the third president of the United States. His two predecessors, George Washington and John Adams, had arrived at their own inaugurations by stagecoach, clad in elegant suits.But Jefferson went on foot, wearing the clothes “of a plain citizen without any distinctive badge of office,” as a Virginia newspaper reported. Jefferson swore his presidential oath, gave a brief speech, and then walked back to have dinner with his fellow boarders.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    The History of Inauguration Day

    HNN Hot Topics: Presidential Inaugurations “So Help Me, God”: The History of the Presidential InaugurationOn Monday, January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second presidential term. The inauguration has been a key event at the start of each presidency since George Washington first took office. Since then, certain features have remained fairly constant, such as the oath and the inaugural address. Other aspects, such as the date, have changed. Inauguration Day was originally March 4 until the ratification of the 20th Amendment, which switched the date to January 20, except in years such as this one when that date falls on a Sunday. In these cases, the president is sworn in with a private ceremony on Sunday and then takes a public oath on the next day. The event has changed with the times in some ways and held to tradition in others, not to mention the mishaps that have occurred along the way.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Inauguration of first black president, federal holiday honoring King come to rare intersection

    ATLANTA — President Barack Obama plans to use a Bible that belonged to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he takes his oath of office, a powerful symbol of this year’s rare intersection of the civil rights movement and the nation’s first black president.Monday is both Inauguration Day and the federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader. It is only the second time the two have fallen on the same day. Some say it’s only fitting the celebrations are intertwined.“It’s almost like fate and history coming together,” said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who worked alongside King in the fight for civil rights during the 1950s and ‘60s and plans to attend the inauguration. “If it hadn’t been for Martin Luther King Jr., there would be no Barack Obama as president.”...

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    A Brief History of Presidential Inaugurations

    HNN Hot Topics: Presidential Inaugurations President Kennedy giving his inaugural address. Credit: JFK Library.Worth ReadingHNN Hot Topics: Presidential InaugurationsHighlights of Past InauguralsNixon Pigeon-Proofed His Inaugural Parade RouteBackground

  • Originally published 01/17/2013

    Presidential Inaugurations

    Download this backgrounder as a Word documentWorth ReadingHNN Hot Topics: Presidential InaugurationsHighlights of Past InauguralsNixon Pigeon-Proofed His Inaugural Parade RouteBackground

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    Presidential Inaugurations

    Download this lesson plan as a Word documentDuration:  One 35-45 minute lesson.Goal:Students will understand the purpose of inauguration day and the meaning of the events that occur.Objectives:Students will be able to identify what takes place during an inauguration.Students will be able to show understanding of inauguration day by writing their own inauguration speeches.Essential Question: What goes on during a presidential inauguration?NCSS Themes:Theme 10- Civic Ideals and PracticesProcedures:Attention Getter:

  • Originally published 01/28/2009

    HNN Hot Topics: Presidential Inaugurations

    IndexGeneralBarack Obama's 2009 InaugurationGeorge W. Bush's 2005 InaugurationGeneral Highlights of Past Inaugurals Rick Shenkman: Nixon Pigeon-Proofed His Inaugural Parade Route Why Do Presidential Inaugurals Often Sound So Much Alike? Library of Congress:"I do solemnly swear" NYT Video: Inaugurations in times of peril Food served at inaugurals ... delicious sometimes Jill Lepore: Have inaugural addresses been getting worse?

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