Tuesday, January 22nd 2013 - 01:35 UTC

Obama acknowledges Hispanic electoral and political influence in inauguration speech

President Barack Obama's inauguration on Monday had a marked Hispanic accent with the prominent participation of speakers and personalities from the country's biggest minority group, and a pledge to overcome the on-going immigration controversy.

The president emphasized the need to find a “better way” to welcome immigrants

Reverend Luis Leon congratulated Obama and Biden in Spanish and English, first time ever in an inauguration

The only Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, swore in Vice President Joe Biden, the poet Richard Blanco delivered the inaugural poem and Episcopal priest Luis Leon gave the sermon complete with a blessing in Spanish.

Likewise Obama spoke in his second inaugural address of the need to find a “better way” to welcome immigrants and make them a part of US society.

The high-profile Hispanic presence is a reflection of the growing political clout of the country's 52 million Hispanics, who voted in unprecedented numbers in November presidential election, 71% of them for Obama.

Hispanics have had visible roles in many of the events surrounding the inauguration, including Sunday night's gala at the Kennedy Centre with celebrities like Jose Feliciano, Marc Anthony and Eva Longoria, co-chair of the inauguration organizing committee.

Mana, the veteran Mexican rock group, will be joining other top flight musicians to entertain Monday night at the inaugural ball at the Washington convention centre.

“Mr President and Vice President, may God bless you all your days” said in Spanish Episcopalian priest Luis Leon moments after the two leaders had taken the oath of office, the first words ever uttered in Spanish in a US presidential inauguration.

Reverend Leon, known as the president's pastor, repeated the same words in English, the language he used to deliver the inaugural sermon.

Richard Blanco, a Spanish-born gay poet of Cuban descent, recited a poem written especially for the occasion. Blanco, 44, who was chosen by Obama, is the youngest poet -- and the first Hispanic or homosexual -- to be given the honour of being selected Inaugural Poet.

In his inaugural address, which sets the tone for his next four years in office, Obama touched on one of the issues of greatest importance to Hispanics in the United States -- immigration.

“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.”

Citing his attempt to pass reforms to shorten the route for undocumented migrants to gain US residency, he called for “young students and engineers” to be “enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”

Even though he did not fulfil his promise of immigration reform during his first term, Obama ordered the deferral of deportations of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, and gave priority to expulsions of those with criminal records.

Monday’s celebration took place on a national holiday which remebers the birth of of Martin Luther King, the great pacificst leader, world famous for his 1963 massive rally in Washington demanding civil rights for all citizens, an event which changed US modern history.

Obama and Biden repeated the oath at Capitol Hill steps in an open ceremony as tradition indicates, but they were already in exercise of their second mandate since on Sunday they had complied privately with the Constitution which indicates January 20.

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1 you are not first (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 02:26 am Report abuse
Hey Britts, This is called democracy. Grow without little princes, waxed queen, and stolen territories around the world. This is the 21 century. Yeap. I am sorry if for a second I expect too much from you...
2 Hepatia (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 03:59 am Report abuse
All of this sticks in the GOP's and Tea Party's craw.
3 screenname (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 05:56 am Report abuse
@1 you are not first: i can't help but laugh everytime one of you numptys mentions stolen territories. I have more faith in the inteligence of America's hispanic population than you, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

By the way, have you ever seen an Episcopalian flag? Luis Leon may be more of an Anglophile than you think.
4 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 09:08 am Report abuse
@ i wonder if argentinians could survive without their stolen territories (e.g., patagonia, paraguay, etc). It's sad that your average British person knows more about real Argentine history than they do apparently.

On topic, is Obama going to use this term to 'come out' and admit that Israel is the USA's closest political ally, and the UK is now somewhere behind Bulgaria? Anyone who says the UK is the USA's closest ally has probably been in a car accident and should urgently seek some medical help.
5 Clyde15 (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 11:23 am Report abuse
We have to remember that the USA has its own agenda.
Britain is useful when it suits American policy - if it doesn't then we are out in the cold. We have a friendly relationship with them, but I would not rely on it being special.
The generation that fought together in WW2 has gone and many new immigrants have come into the states from Latin America and Asia who have nothing in common with the UK.

Israel will probably be the USA's closest ally because of the Jewish lobby. No President could survive without their vote.
As long as we are not dragged into another Middle East fiasco.
I am old enough to remember the British troops being murdered by the Stern gang when they were trying to keep the Palestinians and Zionists apart. Enough said, I have digressed too far from subject.
6 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 11:45 am Report abuse
@5 Sure, but it's probably time we stopped being some uncomfortable third wheel in the USA-Israel love-a-thon, stood tall and went and found ourselves some new friends... like the Europeans or Turks.
7 reality check (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 12:37 pm Report abuse
Obama changes his attitude toward the UK like he changes his underwear. On a daily basis.

One thing is for certain, his attitude is more friendly, when he wants something from the UK, such as support for his foreign policy. He plays Cameron like a fiddle and Cameron lets lets him, he's no choice.
8 Conqueror (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 01:23 pm Report abuse
@1 & 2 I don't know what you two are getting so excited about. The word is “hispanic”, not “latin”. And one of your compatriots is very insistent that none of you has any connection with Europe. “Hispanic” has a very clear connection to Spain and “latin” a connection to Italy.
@5 & 6 While you are figuring out who is what to whom, and just as an example, would you like to look up the extent of the involvement of BAE in the U.S. defence industry. On the subject of Israel, I wonder why Britain doesn't support the Israelis more. Clyde, if the activities of the Stern gang continue to bother you, how do you feel about Germans, Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians and the Vichy French, i.e. southern French? Israel has a legitimate 3,000-year claim to the land it occupies. It is surrounded by any number of countries committed to killing Israelis and destroying Israel. In the same situation, wouldn't you fight? Frankly, I'm amazed at Israel's restraint.
9 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 01:48 pm Report abuse
@8 “I wonder why Britain doesn't support the Israelis more.”

... well where do you start with that one?

a) Their open support of the Argentinians with expertise and weaponry during the Falklands (more than enough reason in my mind.)
b) The national funerals given to members of the terrorist organisations that ultimately became the IDF.
c) Their murdering of Lord Moyne.
d) Their attempts to murder Churchill.
e) Their persistent use of British passports in assassinations.
f) et cetera et cetera et cetera
g) Chief Rabbi of Sephardi Group, and associate of many Israeli government officials Ovadia Yousef referring to non-jews as 'slave donkeys' 'that only exist to serve the people of israel', and not being remonstrated for his racism.

I appreciate that as a country they have their problems, but it doesn't make people forget things like the Deir Yassin massacre, nor their help in killing British servicemen in 1982.
10 ElaineB (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 01:59 pm Report abuse
The 'special' relationship between the US and UK is primarily concerning defence and their joint roles in policing activities with the UN.

I asked about the accusations mentioned here that Obama is anti-British when I was in DC recently. It is not true. He is well aware of the necessity to maintain a good relationship with the UK but Obama has rather more important concerns at home.

The Jewish lobby is hugely influential, as mentioned here by others. Obama's first speech as a new President was to a prominent Jewish Society. Interesting that the election in Israel is not focusing on the Palestinian dispute, but rather on economics.

The Hispanic vote is increasingly important for US politicians to court. And before our resident masochist, TTT, starts feeling all important, these are that people that left Latin America in search of better life.
11 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 02:08 pm Report abuse
@10 So can you give an example of a 'pro-british' action that your friends in DC provided and that we can all associate with the Obama administration?
12 ElaineB (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 02:54 pm Report abuse
Pro-British? I didn't ask that question but rather if he was anti-British. The consensus is that he hasn't acted anti-British (as has been suggested here). We have maintained defence co-operation and business relations. The relationship between Obama and Cameron is cordial; they get on well. It is not a love-fest like the Thatcher/Reagan days but it is fine. Different times. Obama is far more concerned with domestic affairs.

I think to most people Obama has been a bit of a disappointment. He didn't live up to his pre-election speeches and has seemed lacking in 'balls' for want of a better word. But this is in no small part down to the childish antics by politicians that seem to have forgotten they were elected to serve the public. Obama is a good orator but does not have the charisma of, say, Clinton, so he has failed to unite the parties.

Why do you think he is anti-British?

I'll be back in D C next month so I can ask about pro-British moves, if you like.
13 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 03:07 pm Report abuse
@12 [1] discusses it from a torygraph worldview.

[1] blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100067261/why-barack-obama-doesnt-much-care-for-britain/
14 ElaineB (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 03:49 pm Report abuse
The Torygraph. Hmmmm. I prefer the perspective of the people working in and with the US government but I will give it a read later.

15 Raven (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 04:08 pm Report abuse
@ 2 Hepatia

I imagine they jumped out of their chairs and went straight for their AR-15's when they heard the ''of the need to find a “better way” to welcome immigrants and make them a part of US society'' bit.

Mind you, the GOP need to get a grip of themselves if they are ever to field a credible candidate in 4 years. They were so incensed at Obama, they thought ''any candidate we field will win''. To their horror, Romney got mugged. Now they claim he was just ''Obama lite'' and so the GOP now need to try again, which considering their utter bewilderment as to why they lost this time, wont be much different in 2016.
I regret I cannot find an interesting article on the BBC which showed that there are no real centre ground Republicans. The GOP certainly wouldn't have one as the leader, sniffily dismissing them as RINOs. The balance is lost and the US is going to be all the more poorer for it, with the Repubs blaming Obama for it all, yet not looking at themselves for causing problems. The blocking of defence cuts is myopic at best. Every country saddled with debt is cutting back on defence spending (or should be) and it's hardly like the US would be short on anything anytime soon, and maybe they can cut out silly programs that look like another B-2 project ($2 billion per plane ).
16 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 04:17 pm Report abuse
@14 If you're asking people working in and with the US government, you're likely to get an impression managed answer, not only to make you feel better but also to make themselves feel better.

Not that it's my usual read, but the torygraph also does a yearly round-up of how'the proof of the pudding is in the eating' [2]. The US insisting that it must side with Argentina over the 'Malvinas issue' (their words, not mine) constantly gets the top spot.

”In June 2011, Mrs Clinton slapped Britain in face again by signing on to an Organisation of American States (OAS) resolution calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, a position which is completely unacceptable to Great Britain. To add insult to injury, the Obama administration has insisted on using the Argentine term “Malvinas” to describe the Islands in yet another sop to Buenos Aires.”

The list of his punches to the jaw of the USAs supposedly most important ally after Israel seems quite extensive. Read it in your own time.


[2] blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100142971/barack-obamas-top-ten-insults-against-britain-2012-edition/
17 ElaineB (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 04:43 pm Report abuse
@16 My friends don't pull their punches when they talk to me. They know me well and I view politics objectively. I honestly don't get offended when the UK is criticised. Probably because of the nature of my work.

When push comes to shove the US and UK will work together. You could call it a necessary evil or a positive advantage, depending on your perspective.
18 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 04:55 pm Report abuse
@17 By working together, I guess you mean trading information on our trident missiles to the russians. Well, at least the good ol' Canadians are still on our side.

It suddenly makes me feel all European.
19 GFace (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 05:21 pm Report abuse
OK, while I don't drool over Israel, can't stand Bibi, and want a viable 2-state solution through which both sides can sleep with quasi-67 boundaries with viable land swaps, I have to take issue with this eternal “Israel lobby” crap. (Sorry bee-hatches but it's a pet peeve of mine.) Claims that it's wagging our policy is like saying the tail wags the dog. As fascicle as it sounds, we have an Israel Lobby for the same reason we don't have a Illinois Nazi Lobby, an AAUP and not a Soylent Green Lobby (regardless of our passive aggressive mothers and mothers-in-law) and a Corn Lobby but not a Brussels Sprout lobby -- even if the Nazis and brussels sprout growers and MILs threw gazillions of dollars at policy makers. Mainstream Americans simply tend to identify with Israel more than they do with the Palestinians, (or for that matter corn against those d@mn green things, and the Blues Brothers against antisemites, and we all know we ain't getting any younger). Certainly not fair in all respects but that's the truth of it. Simply put, when push comes to shove, “where we'd rather sit is where we stand” on divisive issues like this. The Israel Lobby (and Corn Growers and not to mention AARP, which is far far greater in power than the J Street and let's not get started on the NRA) have mainstream american support because we better identify them over the alternatives. Otherwise, the'd be sharing office space in a soggy cardboard box under a beltway overpass with NAMBLA.

Likewise, with respect to other threads here, the US identifies with the UK over OAS interests even when we watch Downton Abbey just because we're waiting for the great depression season where we get to see Violet ask “do you want pomme frites with that?” (true, we know Maggie Smith will totally rock that line which is the other reason we watch it). As such regardless of any diplomatic ambiguity, Americans are going to probably identify with the Falklands even though Madonna played Evita.
20 Shed-time (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 05:44 pm Report abuse
@19 There always was a strong element within US political circles that were vehemently anti-british. During the Raegan Years it was Jeane Kirkpatrick. More recently it was Rahm Emanuel, whose father was a 'Stern Gang' terrorist who specialised in bus bombings against the British. Even within their society, most Americans will have put money into St. Patrick's Day buckets to help out with 'the troubles' and seen various Irish terrorists being wined and dined at the white house whilst raising money for NORAID.

All the people of the Falklands are asking for is a little bit of understanding from the USA, just like they get from Canada and Australia who willingly stand up and point out what's wrong. That's not a lot to ask, given the $6bil in defense funding that they give to the Israelis every year only to be completely ignored when they ask for 'peace'.
21 GFace (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 06:30 pm Report abuse
@20, Well for the case of the mainstream Americans for whom government must triangulate, I think the Falklanders can ~easily~ make a case and I think it's a shame they don't do so more actively. It's a no-brainer! Americans, once again, when asked to chose, will lean in this case in favor of the Falklands. They are not like contentious settlers in the West Bank as in the I/P conflict as much as CFK would love to portray them. It's far easier to “identify” with FIers over noxious La Campora & Malvanistas (once again, it's like Germany reclaiming the Sudetenland, an intemperate analogy but a true one) and that's 1/2 to 3/4 of the fight even if most americans would never want to live as they do. They've been there for ages, they've faced an illegal invasion and occupation by people who threw people from C130s into the ocean. The moral calculus is pretty easy. Plus, granting your example above, we're also not being asked to chose between our cultural ancestors (UK) and in many cases our immigrant families (as personified by the Irish), and THAT at the time was VERY controversial (plus I strongly disagree that *most* Americans supported NORAID, in college this was a very strong matter of debate).

It may not be a slam dunk with realpolitik Washingtonians or (once again) fashionably edgy college professors* but outside of the beltway the math on this piece of moral calculus is dead easy (far easier than the I/P conflict, Iraq/Afghanistan, or Northern Ireland).

*the ONLY time I have EVER gotten flack for supporting the Falklands was in college where the otherwise allegedly “human rights conscious” humanagonies professor deliberately blanked out the Junta's Dirty War w.r.t. 82 and the implication it would have had had AR held the Islanders and I pretty much made the fool of him within 60 seconds (I suspect it's not his fault he never majored in a STEM field and couldn't do the math).
22 briton (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 07:31 pm Report abuse
If we keep destroying our military,
We won’t be in a position to defend anyone,
And why then should Anyone, defend British interest.
Just a thought ..
23 screenname (#) Jan 22nd, 2013 - 07:59 pm Report abuse
@21 GFace: I hope you are right about the general population of the USA. The real battle is winning the minds of America's hispanic population to make an informed moral choice over the knee jerk racial choice Argentinians try to promote (which is bogus anyway when you look at the to ethnic make up of Argentina).

Either way, if ever Argentina did get boots on the ground in the Falklands I believe the true nature of this situation would quickly be obvious to everyone. What would Argentina do? Lock everyone up that resists? Flood the Islands with Argentinians?

Which makes me think, do Argentina's ruling elite really want the Islands? Or are they much more useful as a diversion.
24 GFace (#) Jan 23rd, 2013 - 12:01 am Report abuse
@23 at worse, it is looked on as a curiosity but in now way is it comparable to, say Russia/Georgia/Ossetia. When push comes to shove (and Argentina did some nasty shoving and continues to do so, albeit more passive aggressively), 82 (not to mention 2013) is pretty back and white. The latino block may not be pro-Falkands as much as mainstreamers would be but likewise they understand the mess into which FIers would be expected to be integrated (though we know that the Malvanistas want an ethnic cleansing solution because if you're gonna go against the UN principle of self-determination, what the heck, go for broke!).

As for AR really wanting the FI, honestly, I doubt they would know what to do with it. Plus I suspect they want the status quo as much if not more than US State Dept, since it convenient Emmanuel Goldstein, and oh how they need it.
25 Hepatia (#) Jan 23rd, 2013 - 12:12 am Report abuse
en.mercopress.com/2013/01/22/obama-acknowledges-hispanic-electoral-and-political-influence-in-inauguration-speech#comment208155: What? For America the importance of Europe has diminished the such an extent that it need not be considered at all. And no where is this more true than in the US.

If you think that US voters cast their votes with one eye on Europe then you have lost all contact with reality. The only part Europe plays in US politics is as a bogey man (for the right).

The fact that Europeans can cast the election and inauguration in European terms at all is just bizarre.
26 screenname (#) Jan 23rd, 2013 - 03:20 am Report abuse
What is more bizarre is you claiming to be some grand political analyst, and yet missing the US government wetting the bed at the thought of the UK even talking about leaving the EU. The reason the EU does not need to be considered is because everything is pretty much worked out already.

Believe it or not, while Argentina bangs on about being free and independent, most of the rest of the world has a symbiotic relationship and realises we are all in this together. The quicker Brazil et al kick Argentina to the kerb, the quicker we can get some proper trade agreements in place.
27 Hepatia (#) Jan 23rd, 2013 - 02:58 pm Report abuse
en.mercopress.com/2013/01/22/obama-acknowledges-hispanic-electoral-and-political-influence-in-inauguration-speech#comment208412: I imagine that you are getting your news in Europe (possibly the UK). In the US this is rating no more than a line item and it is present as the US issuing instructions to one of its client states. News items of this sort are quite common in the US. For instance, this item was mention briefly on Friday's DR show. No evidence of the hysteria that your post would have us believe.

Exactly which “proper trade agreements” are you referring to? The late, but not lamented FTAA? If so you need to explain why, for instance, Brazil would wish to implement the DMCA. And, of course, no policy of Argentina's can, and will, stop Brazil from signing any trade agreement that it sees that is in its interest.

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