Obama retakes office barely four years after one of the most seismic economic periods in U.S. history -- marked by the mortgage market collapse and tremendous instability on Wall Street -- when a gallon of gasoline sells for $1.42 more than it did the last time he was administered the oath, Jan. 20, 2009. One thing that has not changed since that day is unemployment. The nationwide rate today is exactly the same as it was when Obama took office four years ago: 7.8 percent of this nation's workers are out of a job.
Despite the challenges (health care, gun control) and setbacks (budget cuts, taxes) of his first term, Obama again expressed confidence in his vision for the country for the next four years.
"A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless," he said. "We are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together."
During the inauguration speech, Obama referred to his administration's core belief of "sharing the wealth" as a necessary cornerstone in laying the foundation of a successful economy.
"Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it," he said. "America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American. She is free and she is equal."
Obama's second term begins after his first received one of the lowest approval ratings of any U.S. president after World War II. Between Jan. 20, 2009 and Jan. 19, 2013, Obama's average approval rating was just 49.1 percent. Only Gerald Ford (47.2%) and Jimmy Carter (45.4%) fared worse in their first terms. Even George W. Bush -- mired in Iraq and Afghanistan during his first term -- was rated better during his first term (62.2%). Lyndon Johnson (74.2%), John F. Kennedy (70.1%), and Dwight Eisenhower (69.6%) fared the best. (Click for list)
Obama briefly touched on several issues during his inauguration speech -- including climate change and the nation's dependence on oil.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," Obama said. "Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms."
"The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it," he continued. "We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a political opponent of Obama's, marked Monday's inauguration with a note of promise and bipartisan unity.
"Inaugurations are a time to look forward at the opportunities possible over the next four years," Hatch said in a statement. "It is my sincere hope that President Obama will use this opportunity to bring the country together and focus on common sense proposals to strengthen our country."
"We face some great challenges," Hatch continued. "But we are presented with many opportunities as well. I look forward to working with President Obama during his second term to get our country back on the right track."
Interestingly, and unlike his first inauguration in 2009, President Obama dropped his middle name "Hussein" from his introduction by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, (D) New York. Instead, the senator introduced him as Barack H. Obama. However, Obama did use his full name when taking the oath of office from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
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- Gallup: Best and worst first term approval ratings -
- Unemployment rate unchanged from first inauguration -