Alicia Keys took the stage at the Inaugural Ball, playing piano for a ready crowd with a revised rendition of her “Girl on Fire:”
“Obama’s on Fire.”
“He’s the president, and he’s on fire,” Keys sang to a delighted audience. “He’s living in a world and it’s on fire… filled with catastrophe, but he knows he can’t fly away. He’s got both feet on the ground, and he’s burning it down.”
The president and first lady took the stage at 9:55 p.m. and danced to “Let’s Stay Together,” sung by Jennifer Hudson.
On this inaugural day for a second term, the first president elected twice with 51-percent-plus margins of victory since Republican Dwight Eisenhower’s re-election in 1956 was not only intent on keeping his electoral coalition together — with an address reciting the core beliefs of a progressive political agenda. He also was intent on firing up that base for a new round of debates with Congress over everything from immigration and climate change to entitlement spending and gun control.
“All fired up, ready to go,” chanted some of the diners at the post-inaugural luncheon in the Capitol.
Now comes the cold, clear daylight of a wintry day in Washington, where the House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing on the debt-ceiling increase that the president is seeking. The House’s Republicans are inclined to give him only a three-month extension.
Now comes the e-mail from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, warning supporters that Obama and his allies are “coming for your guns.”
“You and I are literally surrounded,” McConnell writes in an e-mail first reported by The Hill. “The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom.”
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton spotlights three prongs of the new push for gun control following the shootings at Newtown, Connecticut. They include “the Feinstein Gun Ban,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s legislation to ban assault weapons. “It is almost hard to believe the sheer breadth and brazenness of this attempt to gut our Constitution,” Benton writes.
Feinstein will roll out her legislation this week. Feinstein also will meet with Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on the farm-worker provisions of a potential immigration bill. The opposition to any such reforms stands ready to pounce there as well.
The president may have fired up his base this week, yet the Republican ranks of McConnell’s forces in the Senate and House Speaker John Boehner’s fractured caucus in the House stand ready with a fire hose for much of what the White House will put forth.