The second inaugural address of any president is rarely as anticipated as the first, but the speech tends to serve as a measure of where the president stands and how he views the state of the world and America’s place in it.
There’s also a question of Obama’s preferred audience. While some Republicans hope to hear a more conciliatory speech, Democrats on the mall and watching across the country might want to hear something else entirely.
“The real Obama is complicated and he has to decide which one he wants to emphasize — the conciliator, the proud progressive, the racial, ethnic inclusivist?” Kazin said.
For those dissatisfied by Monday’s offering, the State of the Union is only a few weeks away.
Steven T. Dennis and Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.