President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been publicly sworn in for their second terms in Washington. And, once again, the repeating of the oath did not go quite as planned, Obama stumbling, of all things, over the words “United States”. The crowds were significantly down on four years ago; an estimated 700,000 instead of 1.8 million, a reflection on the changed, more sombre mood in America. The inauguration ceremonies have also been scaled back to reflect austere times. Only two inaugural balls are planned. In 2009 there were no less than 10. Although Obama begins 2013 on a high, a series of potentially punishing confrontations with the Republicans is on the horizon, on gun control, budgets, and immigration. His four years in power have done nothing to dilute the Republicans’s desire to thwart him at every opportunity.