Jan 19, 2013 / 7:07 pm
Barack Obama, battered yet still popular after a bruising first term as president, raises his right hand Sunday to be sworn in for another four years as the leader of an America that is, perhaps, as divided politically and socially as at any time since the U.S. Civil War 150 years ago.
When Obama first took office as the 44th U.S. president, many Americans hoped the symbolism of the first black man in the White House was a turning point in the country's deeply troubled racial history. Obama vowed to moderate the animus that was engulfing the country, but, four years later, the nation is only more divided. While Obama convincingly won a second term, the jubilation that surrounded him four years ago is subdued this time around.
Obama guided the country through many crushing challenges after taking office in 2009: ending the Iraq war, putting the Afghan war on a course toward U.S. withdrawal and saving the collapsing economy. He won approval for a sweeping health care overhaul. Yet onerous problems remain and his success in resolving them will define his place in history.
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