's senior managing editor for U.S. news and author of a book on how the U.S. Constitution functions in society, offers this long-term look at what Barack Obama is expected to say today:
Many of Obama's more liberal supporters complained in his first term that he wasn't tough enough, or partisan enough. That he was too ready to compromise on everything from health care to economic stimulus. Since his re-election he has projected a sense that he will be playing a stronger hand in his second term and will be tougher. Perhaps so.
But today, to hear his staff tell it, Obama, the former constitutional law professor, will channel James Madison and speak about the centrality of compromise.
"He is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes," says his adviser, David Plouffe, "but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground when it can and should exist. That s going to be a very important part of the speech."
That is the essence of the system Madison and his colleagues designed and enshrined in the Constitution, a complicated scheme of government that Americans have found frustrating at various times in the nation's history.
It is a comment on our age that a re-elected president needs to use a healthy dose of his widely watched speech to make the case for it all over again.
— Michael Oreskes — Twitter http://twitter.com/MichaelOreskes
Inauguration Watch follows the events of President Barack Obama's second inaugural. Look for short items and photos throughout the day.