Republicans and conservative groups criticized Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration speech as a too-liberal, one-sided address that failed to extend a much-needed olive branch to the GOP.
“[His] words were code for a progressive agenda. I’m hoping that the president will recognize that compromise should have been the words for today, and they clearly weren’t,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa. “We were hoping that he would use this day to reach out to all Americans and all parties. He clearly did not.”
“I would have liked to have seen some outreach,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said. “This is the eighth [inauguration] that I’ve been to and always there’s been a portion of the speech where [the president says] ‘I reach out my hand because we need to work together.’ That wasn’t in this speech.”
In his address, Obama spoke of the strides in civil rights of gays, women and African Americans, and of immigration reform, gun control and climate change — but he seemed to steer clear of any bipartisan outreach.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman found parts of Obama’s address “more like a campaign speech’’ and said he thought the president “missed an opportunity to point out where we can find common ground.
“Instead, he chose to talk about it in the abstract, and then his specificity was on things he believes but were not issues where we as a Congress and as an executive branch can make progress — and I’m referring to the debt and the deficit and tax reform.”
“In effect, Mr. Obama endorsed the entire liberal agenda as the guiding star of his next four years in the White House,’’ Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
“He reached out to various interest groups in the Democratic coalition—gays, minorities, feminists, the poor, immigrants. But to Republicans, he offered nothing, not even a vague desire to meet them halfway or reach bipartisan agreements on taxes, spending or anything else.’’
South Dakota Sen. John Thune called the address "mostly 30,000-foot stuff" that didn’t attempt to reach out to the GOP.
"It did seem that he wasn't doing the kind of outreach that he needs to do if he wants to get things accomplished in a second term," Thune said.
“In spite of the words that he spoke today, his White House continues to be very confrontational rather than cooperative in working with Republicans,” said Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said.
Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said: “A lot of that speech I would have been proud to have given. Particularly the first part. A fair amount of it, not so.”
“I thought it was a little bit partisan,” Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi said.
California Rep. John Campbell said: “He said . . . we’ll have to agree on some things to get stuff done. The speech didn’t inspire me in that direction.’’
“When President Obama took office in January 2009, he inherited an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Four years and a $1.2 trillion stimulus bill later, it has risen to 7.8 percent,” Texas Rep. Steve Stockman said in a statement.
“Under Obama, the number of people who gave up on work or finding a job ballooned by 8,332,000 to a record 8,839,000. Instead of ‘hope and change,’ Obama has offered only hopelessness, bitter personal attacks and politics as usual.”
“President Obama needs to put an end to the extremism that led to record deficits and millions of unemployed Americans,’’ said Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
“[Instead, he should] work with Republicans on bipartisan solutions to the serious problems facing our nation in order to create jobs for families and control the wasteful Washington spending that is saddling our children with mountains of debt while holding our economy back from recovery.”
“The president unequivocally confirmed that he believes government is good . . . , needs to regulate more — and bigger government can drive innovation and prosperity for the country,” observed Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. “But at this point in history, I would not agree with that. I thought it was a very appropriate speech for a person who shares those views to make.”
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity called Obama's address "a harshly ideological, aggressively partisan speech more appropriate for the campaign trail than for the solemn occasion of his inaugural ceremony.’’
The speech, the group added, “read like a liberal laundry list with global warming at the top. Americans have rejected environmental extremism in the past and they will again."
Obama’s remarks on climate change “took me back a little bit,” Iowa Rep. Steve King said.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said of Obama’s reference to climate change, “I think he believes it, I think he’s sincere, but it’s still strange. The great energy revolution we’re living through is called ‘Oil and gas.’”
The Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying organization, said Obama was wrong to link the gay civil rights movement to African Americans and women.
Liberal historian Douglas Brinkley, on the other hand, called Obama’s swearing in on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,’’ “one of the best second inaugurals ever.’’
“To mention women about three different times, and then to mention Stonewall [the gay uprising], which, when I went to graduate school here at Georgetown, Stonewall was considered lefty history," Brinkley asserted. "He threw Stonewall in there as if it was a military battle site. And then Selma. It made it a historic speech. I can see why the Republicans aren’t happy with it.’’
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