Photo Credit: Alex Wong, Getty Images
We’re having an Inauguration Day party at my house. I scheduled play dates for my girls complete with what were supposed to be red, white and blue cupcakes but are instead greenish and pink (best laid plans!) so they can let mama watch the television coverage ALL DAY LONG. I love the presidential history, the pomp and circumstance and the style (love what the first lady is wearing!) but most of all, I love the feeling of a new start for the country. The inauguration lets us move past all that negativity of the campaign (and boy was it ever negative) and the gridlock in Washington – and at least for one day feel like the slate is wiped clean and lots of ambitious ideas are possible.
So as President Obama took the ceremonial oath of office at noon (his official swearing in already took place yesterday, January 20th, in accordance with the Constitution), here’s what we were wondering:
1.No More Campaigns. President Obama doesn’t have to worry about being re-elected again. Will this make him feel liberated? Will it propel him to push even harder for some of his key priorities?
2.Newtown. How hard will the president push for his bold new gun control measures? Will presidential and public pressure put pressure on the GOP-led Congress to make a deal? Will the president also make sure access to mental health services is part of his "last four years" agenda?
3.It’s the Debt, Stupid. By late February, unless the president and the Congress reach a deal on raising the so-called debt ceiling, the U.S. government will no longer be able to pay its bills, which would be devastating to an economy that is improving but is still not where anyone wants it to be. Over the next four years, will the president and the Congress come to terms on significant ways to reduce the deficit, and make real reforms to Social Security and Medicare or will the issues be pushed off to the next administration?
4.Immigration. The president wants to make this a top priority in the first year of his second term. After an election in which hispanics played a key role in giving him another four years, will he be able to sign some real changes into law?
5. Year of the Woman. We cheered as 20 women were elected to the U.S. Senate, putting more women in that legislative body than we’ve ever had before. Will more women mean more will get done in Congress and what issues will these women, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), champion for all of us? And will we see more women appointed to key roles in the president's inner circle?
6.Michelle’s New Issues. We know First Lady Michelle Obama is working with her team on a strategic plan for the next six to 12 months, according to a White House aide. Will she take on other issues in addition to her fight against childhood obesity and support for military families? We’re betting we'll hear her talk more about work/life balance.
7.The Obama Girls. Malia will be going off to college before the end of her dad’s final term, and Sasha (who jokingly told her dad, "You didn't mess up," after his swearing in Sunday) will enter high school. How will they deal with life as teenagers inside the White House? We already know from the first lady that she will never be discussing their dating lives. Will we see them more on the national stage with their parents?
8.Legacy. Every president thinks about his legacy. It’s human nature. How much will the president be thinking about his as he shapes the next four years? Ultimately, his legacy is for the history writers but what does he hope his legacy will be? (That moment where the president took another long look at the hundreds of thousands gathered out along the National Mall before leaving the Capitol indicates a man who's reflecting on what he has accomplished and what more he hopes to do.)
9.Civil Discourse. The man who came to Washington four years ago hoping to find a way to work with both sides and foster more civility in our national politics has found the task more difficult than he ever imagined. What will he do or what can he do over the next four years to change that?
10.2016. Moments after the president delivered his second and final inaugural address, you can bet the candidates who might run four years from now – names like Governor Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – were thinking about their futures, with their aides and advisors looking ahead to who will be the next person standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol taking the oath of office.
No matter your politics, enjoy the day, and may it be the start of exciting new possibiliites for all of us!
Watch this NBC Nightly News report on the next four years for Michelle featuring our interview with Mrs. Obama and a comment from me: