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Obama agenda: Kicking off another four years

The AP previews Obama’s inaugural speech today. “President Barack Obama has prepared a second inaugural address that broadly lays out his vision for the country's future, setting the stage for looming debates over taxes, guns, immigration and other issues while leaving the details for another day. The speech, slated right after Obama takes an oath to ‘faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States’ Monday on the Capitol's west front, includes no new policy, aides say. Rather, the president plans to use the moment as it traditionally has been in most of the 56 previous inaugurations — to talk about founding American values and their importance to the country's success today.”

More: “Inaugural addresses are not typically partisan, and White House aides say Obama doesn't intend to call out his political opponents. But they say he will stand up for his values and vision that were supported by the majority of voters in the November election. Obama's prepared text notes that spirited debate is a hallmark of a vibrant democracy, aides say, but that the country's leaders can't let disagreement prevent them from finding common ground to move the country forward. The president also plans to encourage Americans to continue making their voices heard to shape the debate as policy is made, aides said.”

The New York Times on yesterday’s private swearing-in ceremony: “With only his family beside him, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into office for a second term on Sunday in advance of Monday’s public pomp, facing a bitterly divided government at home and persistent threats abroad that inhibit his effort to redefine America’s use of power. “ 

Ron Fournier looks at passages from Lincoln’s second inaugural address that President Obama might want to reflect on and consider.

National Journal: “President Nixon Murdered Pigeons and Other Inauguration Facts.”

NBC’s Carrie Dann: “From drunken speeches to dead canaries, a guide to our quirky inaugural history.”

NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Debt fight, gun control and immigration top president's to-do list.”

“The challenge for Obama is no different than that faced by Washington and the 15 other two-term presidents – how to make a second inaugural address sound fresh, meaningful and forward-looking. Almost all of Obama’s predecessors failed at this,” National Journal’s Condon writes.

David Maraniss: “Even now, on Day 1,460 of his presidency, the question persists: Who is he, really? There is a common refrain that Obama seems elusive, if not mysterious; less easily categorized and understood than the last Democratic president. Bill Clinton’s traits were so extra-large and variegated, for better and worse, that something in him seemed to connect to almost anybody and anything. No doubt Obama is a different breed of cat. Aspects of his political personality are less vivid than Clinton’s. But he is not overly elusive. His mystery is hiding in plain sight. There is a pattern to his behavior, just as there was with Clinton. Where Clinton was protean, Obama is more slowly evolving. People tend to forget, or underestimate, that he had scant executive experience before becoming president. Behind his veneer of ultra-cool control he was struggling to figure things out. Now, after four years, his presidential identity has started to approach its full shape, which will become clearer from now to 2016.”

“Obama was sworn in several hours after Vice President Joe Biden took his oath at 8:21 a.m. at his official residence at the Naval Observatory. The early hour for his ceremony was because Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- who was the first Latina and third woman to administer the oath for a vice president -- had to catch a train to New York for a book signing. She will return in time for Monday’s Capitol ceremony,” the Boston Globe reports.

“Former President Bill Clinton warned a group of top Democratic donors at a private Saturday meeting not to underestimate the passions that gun control stirs among many Americans,” Politico writes.

Said Clinton: “Do not patronize the passionate supporters of your opponents by looking down your nose at them. A lot of these people live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these things. I know because I come from this world."

Vice President Joe Biden pledged to pursue climate change in an Obama second term in a surprise appearance at the Green Ball Sunday night. “I'll tell you what my green dream is: that we finally face up to climate change," Biden said, adding, “I don't intend on ending this four years without getting an awful lot more done. … Keep the faith. … There is science in the White House."

“Four years after President Barack Obama promised to change the culture of Washington, it’s hard to imagine how his ethics, transparency and campaign finance pledges could have backfired more thoroughly,” Roll Call writes. “Even before the president solicited unlimited corporate donations for his inauguration and announced he will reinvent his campaign operation as an unrestricted lobbying group, government watchdog groups were already fed up with Obama’s many reversals. Grievances include his failure to follow through on pledges to overhaul the public financing system, to fill vacancies at the Federal Election Commission and to make his administration the most transparent in history. Not to mention his decision to embrace unrestricted super PACs after saying he would reject them. From a public relations point of view, Obama would have drawn far less criticism had he promised — and done — nothing on the government watchdog front.”