Liberals and conservatives alike took stock of the progressive vision articulated in President Obama’s second inaugural address Monday, which called for equal rights for minorities and a robust social safety net for those in need.
Liberals welcomed the president’s strong defense of the social safety net and praised his robust call for gay rights as a historic moment.
On the other side of the aisle, conservatives noted that Obama had used the speech to promote a liberal vision of the role of government and shut the door on small-government conservatism as a mainstream principle. Though conservative lawmakers stayed away from harsh criticism on Inauguration Day, they did not see the speech as an attempt to reach across the aisle — a theme in President Obama’s first inaugural address four years ago — but rather to promote the liberal ideas of the Democratic base.
Here’s a roundup of key reactions:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, famed civil rights leader:
“He spoke of the American promise, and that promise is an inclusive promise,” Jackson told TPM. “Many people from other places, but all protected by the promise. None on the margins. To me that was the thrust of it.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign:
“President Barack Obama made history today by connecting the lives of committed and loving lesbian and gay couples fighting for marriage equality to this nation’s proud tradition of equal rights for all,” Griffin said in a statement. “We were honored that the President included Stonewall among the historic events in American history that have made our union stronger.”
Matthew Yglesias, center-left economics blogger at Slate:
“[A]s a practical matter a dynamic market economic requires risk-taking,” Yglesias wrote of Obama’s defense of entitlements. “Policies to minimize downside risk facilitate risk-taking and increase rather than reduce the level of dynamism in society and the economy.”
Charles Krauthammer, conservative columnist:
“I think very important historically because this this was really Obama unbound,” he said on Fox News. “And I think what’s most interesting is that Obama basically is declaring the end of Reaganism in this speech.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):
“The speech was more of a campaign style speech than I expected,” Collins told the New York Times after the ceremony. “Maybe it’s just the final stage of the campaign, and now we can all get down to governing.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
“It was a fine speech, but I didn’t hear any conciliatory remarks,” McCain told the Times. “I didn’t see any specific reference like, ‘I reach out my hand to the other side of the aisle.’”
Marion Barry, a Washington D.C. councilmember and former mayor:
Obama should have made an explicit call for voting rights for citizens of the District, Barry told the Washington City Paper. “The president has a responsibility to help liberate us.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.