Sober Speech Sets Tone for New Administration

U.S President Barack Obama waves after giving his inaugural address during his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America on the West Front of the Capitol January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)  more pictures >>

Amid the celebratory cheers of a boistorous audience, Barack Obama delivered a sobering speech tinged with dark allusions to the state of the economy and America's international standing.
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Obama held a calm, even face and quickly quelled the chants of "Obama! Obama!" as he took the podium to deliver a speech that will be remembered as a call to action.

"The challenges we face are real," he said. "They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America, they will be met."

Obama at once evoked the sense of hope that characterized his presidential campaign and criticized the outgoing administration as he looked at the audience and said "We are ready to lead once more."

The new president bullet pointed the challenges that face his administration: a faltering economy, an unpopular and costly war, environmental problems, and a health care system in need of reorganization. Instead of reassuring his audience that he was capable of handling the challenges facing him, he called on the people of the United States to work for their country.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. Obama seemed to pay little respect to outgoing president George W. Bush, implying that America had lost its former prestige and fallen into an age of cynicism while under Bush's leadership.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals," he said in reference to the previous administration's handling of anti-terror rhetoric.

The speech was received well, and lived up to other great moments in Obama's oratory history, such as his 2002 speech denouncing the war in Iraq and his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. For a full transcript of the speech, see our inauguration transcript here.

Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States


  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States
  • Barack Obama Is Sworn In As 44th President Of The United States

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