The closing refrain -- a reminder that the presidential oath of office is an extension of the oath of citizenship taken by new immigrants or the oath taken by soldiers -- also offered a reach across the aisle: "It was an oath to God and country, not party or faction." Balanced with the pointed presidential reality check that "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling for reasoned debate," it summed up the hopes of this inaugural moment and the import of his decisive re-election amid such a divided political landscape.
Here's hoping for all of us that those patriotic emotions -- those actual imperatives of self-government -- are carried forward into the next Congress.
John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns." He is a regular contributor to "Erin Burnett OutFront" and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to "Erin Burnett OutFront" at 7 ET weeknights.
Anne-Marie Slaughter: A welcome focus on climate change
This was the rainbow inauguration. It was dedicated above all to showcasing the diversity of the American people and calling on us once again to fulfill the promise of e pluribus unum -- out of many, one. Foreign policy got a scant few paragraphs.
But the single most important moment was Obama's decision to list our commitment "to respond to the threat of climate change" as the first mention of a foreign policy issue. He spoke of leading a transition to sustainable energy resources, a national grand strategy that has recently been proposed by Patrick Doherty of the New America Foundation, building on the proposal of a new strategic narrative by two military men working for Adm. Michael Mullen when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Climate change is in fact the most important existential and security issue of our time. Equally important, it is both a foreign policy and a domestic policy issue. Obama believes that how we respond to our domestic challenges will determine our power and influence in the world, so he will bring troops home, engage the world through partnerships, support democracy through the power of our example, and, as he said so often on the campaign trail, engage in nation-building here at home.
Anne-Marie Slaughter is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University. She curates foreign policy on Twitter at @slaughteram.
Ana Navarro: Today, revel in the strength of democracy
I love the pomp and circumstance of inaugurals. I love the significance of the traditions. I was born in Nicaragua into a dictatorship that had already lasted more than two decades. I lived through a civil war and communist revolution before I was 10.
Today, I am fortunate to live in a country where for 224 years we have had peaceful transitions of government. Sadly, it is something of a rare occurrence in our hemisphere and our world. In these difficult times when political divisions and ideological differences dominate our political discourse, we must not take for granted the strength of our democracy. We cannot forget, that in other countries, political disagreements can land you in exile, jail or a grave.
Inaugurations are a day for unity and vision, a day for lofty rhetoric and inspiration. It's not a day when we wave a magical wand to erase divisions. Instead, it is a day when in spite of those divisions, we recognize that our Constitution and democracy prevail.
I'm not going to dissect Obama's speech. Former Jimmy President Carter called it a "very progressive" speech. I agree. There were many lines in that speech that the coalition that voted for Obama will find encouraging, and those who didn't vote for him, will not. We have plenty of time to focus on those differences. Today, let's focus on what brings us together, not drives us apart
Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and commentator, was national Hispanic campaign chairwoman for John McCain in 2008 and national Hispanic co-chair for Jon Huntsman's 2012 campaign. Follow her on Twitter @ananavarro.
Timothy Stanley: President's speech laid out America's divide
Obama obviously intends to govern as he campaigned -- as a committed, uncompromising liberal. We were promised one of those "bring us together"-type speeches that typified the heady days of 2009; instead we got a more policy specific speech that reflected the difficult, partisan reality of 2013. Obama has an agenda, and he's willing to fight for it.
The philosophical ground work was laid out. Freedoms, we learned, "are self-evident but not self-executing." It requires "collective action" to realize basic liberties. And we cannot truly be free if dominated by a "privileged few." So we were promised economic justice, renewable energy and a moral commitment to gay rights -- "for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." For that line alone the speech proved controversial but admirably courageous. All of this is germane to European politics, but it feels radical coming from a U.S. president. It wouldn't have been out of place if he had joined James Taylor in a rendition of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."
Obama's presidency was supposed to heal the nation, but it's notable just how divided it feels today. Aside from the polls that show significant numbers of Americans are worried about the future (and worrying numbers of Republicans hoping that the president's policies will fail), the biggest marker of this is the growing philosophical difference between the parties. If Romney had won, his speech would no doubt be equally as partisan but very different in tone and content. And the enormous gulf between Obama's collectivist reading of the Constitution and Romney's individualist one reflects the fracturing of the country into camps that understand their country's history and values very differently.
Of course, if Romney had won, the speech probably also wouldn't have been so good. On style alone, Obama has earned his place in history. What he makes of his second term, however, will be determined by forces beyond his control.
Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."
Maria Cardona: Hope and change undimmed
It was more sober in this inaugural address, but Obama's message is still one of hope and change. On a cold, windy morning, before a smaller throng than last time around, the president laid out his vision with a keen focus on what got him: his championing of the middle class, a recognition and celebration of the growing and powerful demographics in this country -- Latinos, women, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and young people -- and a reaffirmation that we "are all in this together."
This inauguration saw the historic participation of four Latinos, front and center: co- chair of the inaugural, Eva Longoria; Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who swore in Vice President Joe Biden; the openly gay Latino poet laureate Richard Blanco; and the Rev. Luis Leon. And the president's acknowledgement that we cannot be a country that is unwelcoming of immigrants or one that does not embrace young immigrants was a clear indication that the president understands the 71% of Latinos who helped get him elected will be looking for him to have their back. It seems he will.
He was also defiant in his defense of the middle class and put his opponents on notice that he will not back down in the fights ahead to ensure that Medicare and Social Security remain strong and that our economy is rebuilt for everyone, not just the privileged few. He gave his supporters hope he will continue to fight for them. He gave all Americans the assurance the country will continue to change for the better. Still: hope and change.
Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.