What a contrast last night’s Inaugural Address was compared to the one President Obama gave four years ago. Gone was any attempt to reach out to his Republican opponents. In its place was an aggressive assertion of modern liberalism, with the emphasis on gay rights, gun control, gender equality, combating climate change and – if his remarks about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and income inequality are anything to go by – redistributive taxation. This is a fully-fledged socialist agenda that will leave the the 47.2 per cent of Americans who didn’t vote for Obama feeling ostracised and angry. If this is going to be the tone of Obama’s second term, the next four years are likely to see America more divided than at any time since the 1960s….
The vision outlined by Obama yesterday was, in its own way, as ambitious as anything set out by Lincoln, Roosevelt or Johnson. But there’s no corresponding historical crisis to provide Obama with the political opportunity to realise that vision. In the absence of that, Obama has little hope of getting a programme of liberal legislation through Congress. I’m even sceptical about the passage of a gun control bill. Instead, Obama will just end up dividing America – or, rather, make the existing divisions even more bitter and rancorous. He is leading his forces into a civil conflict he cannot possibly win and unless he reverses course the next four years will be among the ugliest in America’s history.