What They're Saying About Obama's Speech

David Wagner
The Atlantic Wire

President Obama touched on gay rights, school shootings, climate change, and health care in his second inaugural address. Online chatter from the right, left, and center of the spectrum offered widely diverging takes on his points. But even if he polarized the audience, President Obama seems to have accomplished one difficult feat: In a Twitterscape easily distracted by memes and silly jokes, he got most pundits to discuss serious issues in a serious way. There were still memes and silly jokes, but let's take at the instant pundit reaction to specific segments of Obama's forceful speech, and what they might mean for the second term.

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Gay Rights

Obama's quote: "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall ... Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

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Only thing I will remember from Obama's speech was Stonewall. Pretty amazing to hear that.

— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) January 21, 2013

1st time a president of US in an inaugural speech has called for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, also referenced Stonewall.

— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) January 21, 2013

It's genuinely shocking that Stonewall is now mentionable in presidential addresses.

— Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) January 21, 2013

Climate Change

Obama's quote: "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms."

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Vows action on 'climate change'... drudge.tw/TaO3aS


Bold rhetoric from Obama's inaug speech on inequality and climate change. As always, the question: Will he push policies to match?

— Jim Tankersley (@jimtankersley) January 21, 2013

Fred Upton on Obama climate change remark: "I thought maybe that was him loosening up for a signature of the Keystone Pipeline."

— Matthew Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 21, 2013

Gun Violence

Obama's quote: "Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm." 

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No mention of guns in Obama's speech. Brief mention of Newtown.

— Aaron Blake (@FixAaron) January 21, 2013

GOP Senator: Obama Tried To 'Exploit' Newtown Tragedy 'Within Minutes' mediaite.com/tv/gop-senator… (VIDEO)

— Mediaite (@mediaite) January 21, 2013

Nice. Newtown mention. Well done, sir.

— Isaac Butler (@parabasis) January 21, 2013

Health Care

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Obama's quote: "We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."


A rare second inaugural that risks a clear ideology, from climate change to healthcare. Let's hope risk in deed follows risk in word.

— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) January 21, 2013

Word choice to highlight crucial role of health costs: "... to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit,"

— David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) January 21, 2013

It's not hard to cut the cost of health care when you're the one who nearly doubled it in just 4 years.

— John Nolte(@NolteNC) January 21, 2013


Obama's quote: "Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."


Obama says that "our journey is not complete" until we have full rights for women, gays, immigrants #inauguration

— Latino Rebels (@latinorebels) January 21, 2013

That was it on #immigration? A throw away line about STEM students? Psh.

— Anu Joshi (@anu22)  January 21, 2013

ICYMI, here's why young Dreamers will be looking to Obama to signal immigration reform in his #inaug13 speech gu.com/p/3d68q

— Stuart Millar (@stuartmillar159)  January 21, 2013

What of bright young students and engineers who happen to be citizens? Should they be given opportunities first? #immigration #inauag2013

— FAIR (@FAIRImmigration) January 21, 2013