It’s official! Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States… Again!
An older, grayer and battle-scarred Barack Obama began his second term as America’s 44th President on Sunday when he took the oath of office during a brief and intimate ceremony at the White House.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the 35-word oath flawlessly — a contrast from 2009, when he flubbed the words — as First Lady Michelle Obama, sporting her youthful new bangs, and their daughters Malia and Sasha looked on.
“Good job, Daddy,” Sasha said.
“I did it,” the President whispered as he hugged her.
“You didn’t mess up,” she answered. It was an apparent reference to the do-over that was required in 2009, when Obama repeated Roberts’ flub and White House lawyers arranged a second swearing-in to ward off any questions about the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.
The partying began in earnest Sunday evening with a series of galas, including a candelight reception for donors at the National Building Museum, where the President drew laughs and applause by complimenting his wife’s new ’do.
“I love Michelle Obama,” he said, “and to address the most significant event of this weekend: I love her bangs.”
“She looks good. She always looks good.”
Vice President Biden also recited his oath — and he reached out to a daughter of the Bronx for the honors.
Biden tapped Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to swear him in, but she was due at the Barnes & Noble on Union Square in Manhattan at 2:30 p.m. to promote her memoir, “My Beloved World.”
Undeterred, Biden moved the ceremony up to 8:15 a.m. to accommodate the high court’s first Latina justice. And after swearing him in — at Biden’s official residence — she raced to catch an Amtrak train back to New York.
Obama and Biden recited their oaths to fulfill the requirements of the Constitution, which mandates that the President and vice president begin their terms at noon on Jan. 20.
Because the 20th fell on a Sunday, the official celebration will take place Monday, when the swearings-in will be reenacted with pomp and pageantry on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. As many as 800,000 people will watch from the National Mall. The ceremony will be followed by the inaugural parade in the afternoon and two inaugural balls at night.
But even with appearances by James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé, it will be a more muted celebration than four years ago, when 1.8 million people descended on Washington to witness history — the swearing-in of the nation’s first black President, who had promised a weary America both hope and change.
Obama will lay out the broad themes of his second-term agenda in Monday’s inaugural address. He began working on it in early December, aides said, and he was still tinkering with it over the weekend.
The aides said Obama would save the specifics for his Feb. 12 State of the Union address.
“The inaugural traditions are a great symbol of how our democracy works, and how we peacefully transfer power,” Obama said on Saturday at a Washington elementary school.
“But it should also be an affirmation that we’re all in this together,” he added.
Between their two official swearings-in on Sunday, Obama and Biden met at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, and on a crisp and sun-splashed January morning, they laid a wreath to commemorate America’s war dead.
They also prayed together at the historic 175-year-old Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, famous for once harboring runaway slaves, at a service to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday will be celebrated with a national holiday Monday.
It’s a great day in American history! Let’s all celebrate and pray for the health and safety of the leader of our great nation.