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Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was sworn into office as the 44th president of the United States and the first African American president.
Just after noon, under cloudy skies with his family near, the former senator from Illinois placed his hand on President Abraham Lincoln’s bible — which was held by Michelle Obama — and took the 35-word oath of office, administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
“I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors,” he said in his inaugural address.
Obama’s speech focused on the economy, citizenship, and the U.S.’s relationships with the rest of the world.
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.Â They are serious and they are many.Â They will not be met easily or in a short span of time,” he said to the more than one million people assembled on the National Mall. “But know this, America — they will be met. “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
Obama immediately addressed the economy and his goal to fix the damaged economy left behind by former President George W. Bush.
“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.Â Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.Â Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.Â Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.Â Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”
The dawn of the new Democratic era — with Obama allies in charge of both houses of Congress – ends eight years of Republican control of the White House by Bush, who leaves Washington as one of the nation’s most unpopular and divisive presidents, the architect of two unfinished wars and the man in charge at a time of economic calamity that swept away many Americans’ jobs, savings and homes, writes the Associated Press.
With Obama in office, the country’s foreign and domestic policies are expected to change — as is criticsm of said policies. “To the Muslim world,” Obama said, “we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
And he sought rapprochement with nations and cultures that have been viewed as enemies of the U.S. for the past eight years. “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the