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Framed by the marble memorial to Abraham Lincoln and facing a crowd of more than half a million people, Barack Obama delivered a message of hope last night declaring: ‘Anything is possible in America.’

The President-elect was speaking at last night’s conclusion to Washington’s star-studded ‘We Are One’ concert featuring a string of superstar supporters including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce and Stevie Wonder.

Two days before he takes office as the first black US president, Mr Obama underscored the challenge ahead, saying: ‘Only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now.’

Beyonce Knowles performs America the Beautiful flanked by stars (from left to right) Jon Bon Jovi, Marisa Tomei, Shakira, Bono, Betty LaVette and Stevie Wonder

Beyonce Knowles performs America the Beautiful flanked by stars (from left to right) Jon Bon Jovi, Marisa Tomei, Shakira, Bono, Betty LaVette and Stevie Wonder

Barack Obama, wife Michelle and daughter Sasha - pictured with Vice President elect Joe Biden and wife Jill - wave to the crowd through bulletproof glass

Barack Obama, wife Michelle and daughter Sasha - pictured with Vice President elect Joe Biden and wife Jill - wave to the crowd through bulletproof glass

But despite an economy in crisis and a war being fought on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said he is ‘as hopeful as ever’.

‘Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead – I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure – that the dream of our founders will live on in our time,’ he added.

The huge party on the National Mall – which also included Vice-President Joe Biden, actor Tom Hanks and golfer Tiger Woods as speakers – kicked off a dizzying round of lavish balls, concerts and celebrations to mark Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony.

Crowds gather at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for the opening ceremony of Mr Obama's inauguration

Bird's eye view: Crowds gather at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for the opening ceremony of Mr Obama's inauguration

Barack Obama speaks in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the inaugural celebration

Barack Obama speaks in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the inaugural celebration

The inauguration has also seen the biggest security operation in history being mobilised.

Washington D.C. is being turned into a fortress city with a 45,000-strong force of police, soldiers and secret service officials.

As the first black President prepares to take office, security chiefs were planning for a range of potential assassination scenarios, from a lone gunman to a terrorist attack.

But for a few days at least, the nation’s worst economic slide since the Great Depression was being glossed over in a marathon of spectacle and tradition that dwarfs any past Inauguration Day festivities.

However there was growing unease last night that the estimated £100million bill for the array of events will be just as historic as Mr Obama’s ascent to the White House.

The grandeur of the presidential coronation has some senior Republicans suggesting the incoming Commander-in-Chief has misread the country’s mood.

U2's Bono, right, and The Edge perform In the Name of Love

U2's Bono, right, and The Edge perform In the Name of Love

Shakira and Usher join Stevie Wonder on Higher Ground

Shakira and Usher join Stevie Wonder on Higher Ground

While the capital came alive with excitement on the eve of the inauguration, the rest of the US remains weighed down with problems at home and abroad.

Mr Obama confronted those fears head-on in his rousing speech last night, saying: ‘Our nation is at war, our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes.

‘I won’t pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy,’ he added. ‘It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our resolve as a nation.’

But he said he had faith in a nation that was at its best in times of trial.

The President-elect has been trying to walk a delicate line by mixing celebrity-studded parties like last night’s concert featuring superstar supporters like U2, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce with more statesman-like appearances.

Mr & Mrs Obama get down to the music during Bruce Springsteen's rendition of The Rising

Singalong: Mr & Mrs Obama get down to the music during Bruce Springsteen's rendition of The Rising

Pete Seeger, centre, and his grandson Tao, left, perform with Bruce Springsteen on This Land is Your Land

Pete Seeger, centre, and his grandson Tao, left, perform with Bruce Springsteen on This Land is Your Land

He kicked off with a train journey on Saturday from Philadelphia to Washington echoing George Washington’s ride from Mount Vernon to New York, where the US capital was then located.

Yesterday, a sombre Mr Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb Of The Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery on the Virginia side of the Potomac River before going with his family to the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, where he and his family were greeted with an ovation.

Mr Obama plans to lead commemorations for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King today, a national holiday in the US in memory of the iconic churchman who was assassinated in 1968, five years after his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Thousands of people braved the cold to listen to Barack Obama

Thousands of people braved the cold to listen to Barack Obama

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It is a poignant anniversary for Mr Obama, who declared it a day of national service and he plans to visit residents living in some of Washington’s poorest suburbs.

Last night, wife, Michelle and daughters Malia, ten, and seven-year-old Sasha joined him at the free inauguration concert attended by a crowd of up to half a million people.

Among the speakers was Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights hero, who introduced a video clip of President John F.Kennedy’s famous ‘ask not’ inauguration address.

Last night’s crowd is expected to grow to an unprecedented two million for the Inauguration Day events on the steps of the US Capitol building – more than double the number for any previous president taking the oath.

Actor Tom Hanks speaks during the celebration

Actor Tom Hanks speaks during the celebration

Mr Obama embraces Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington

Mr Obama embraces Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington

After a giant parade from the Capitol to the White House, the new president will attend at least ten glitzy official balls around the city, with all eyes on the First Lady’s fashions.

‘No-one is begrudging the president a celebration to mark this watershed event, but people struggling to keep their homes are going to be looking at this and wondering what is going on,’ said one senior Republican analyst.

After George Bush’s election victory in 2004, Democrats urged him to be frugal, pointing to President Roosevelt’s 1945 inauguration when he made a short speech and served guests ‘cold chicken salad and plain pound cake’.

During World War I, President Wilson cancelled all parties marking the beginning of his term in 1917, saying festivities would be ‘undignified’.

Actor Samuel L Jackson addresses the crowd

Actor Samuel L Jackson addresses the crowd

But Mr Obama’s inauguration committee says it doesn’t believe Americans will consider the celebrations excessive.

‘That is probably not the way the country is going to be looking at it,’ said committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass.

‘It is not a celebration of an election. It is a celebration of our common values.’

Stephen Hess, a fellow of the Brookings Institute in Washington, said Americans have always loved a party.

‘We broke away from the Brits and we had something to celebrate then, and we’ve really never stopped celebrating,’ he said.

Mr Obama greets actor Jamie Foxx as singer John Mellencamp and comedian Steve Carell look on

Mr Obama greets actor Jamie Foxx as singer John Mellencamp and comedian Steve Carell look on

‘If anything, Americans need reason to celebrate even more during tough times.

‘That’s why movies starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were so popular during the Great Depression, just to name one example. People need an escape, they deserve a good celebration, and Barack Obama’s inauguration more than any other gives people a great reason to celebrate,’ he added.

Adding to the price tag is the cost of a massive security operation.

More than 40,000 police, soldiers and Secret Service staff have been given the task of keeping the new president safe. While officials say they haven’t received any credible threats, they aren’t leaving anything to chance.

Organisers even have an army brigade ready to respond to a chemical and biological attack.

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Actor Forest Whitaker (left) and golfer Tiger Woods also took the podium

Mr Obama’s inaugural committee has raised about £30 million towards the cost of staging events like last night’s show and they were paid an additional £3 million for the exclusive TV rights to screen last night’s concert and another tonight starring teen stars Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

But most of the rest of the costs – including security and transportation – are being covered by the taxpayer.

Although he may not get to bed before 3am after the inaugural balls, Mr Obama plans to make Wednesday, his first full day as President.

He will start Wednesday at Washington’s National Cathedral for the National Prayer Service, which dates to George Washington’s time.

Then he will have to return to the serious business of running the country.

Sheryl Crow teamed up with will.i.am and Herbie Hancock to perform Bob Marley's One Love

Sheryl Crow teamed up with will.i.am and Herbie Hancock to perform Bob Marley's One Love

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Mary J Blige and James Taylor also performed at the historic event

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas was in the crowd, and Oscar winner Queen Latifah spoke from the podium

Source: Daily Mail

The Obama girls will be the youngest kids to live in the White House in decades.

The Obama girls will be the youngest kids to live in the White House in decades.

As incoming President Barack Obama ponders economic-bailout plans in the Oval Office, some pretty heavy action will be taking place in the private quarters of the White House, too.

Malia and Sasha Obama, ages 10 and 7, respectively, are the youngest children to inhabit the White House in decades. And they will be facing some seismic challenges of their own, in child-development terms. The Obama girls will pass from childhood into the upheaval of the pre-teen and early teenage years in a venue that past presidential kid Luci Johnson termed a “museum, a public fishbowl and a prison.”

The loss of privacy, continuity and constancy imposed by their move to the White House — coupled with the monumental new opportunities it offers — will have a huge impact on the Obama children’s sense of identity and competence at a critical stage, child-development experts say. While the glare of the spotlight has burned some presidential kids, others have emerged unscathed and strong. A look at the risks and rewards, based on research and past examples, holds lessons for any parent raising children under unusual stress.

Malia and Sasha are facing some core “developmental tasks,” in child-development parlance: the need to build their own sense of personal identity, or their concept of who they are in relation to others and the world at large, and their belief in their competence as individuals. These growth stages must be accomplished in an ever-widening context of friendships, school, the neighborhood and the world at large.

The Obamas, child-development experts say, seem to be a picture of health, based on the deep affection and easy communication family members displayed last July in their only video interview together. Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, have vowed to hold life as steady as possible for the girls, and are taking grandmother Marian Robinson to Washington to help.

Read on…

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WASHINGTON — The thaw in the resentful relationship between the most powerful woman in the Democratic Party and her younger male rival began at the party’s convention this summer, when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave such a passionate speech supporting Senator Barack Obama that his top aides leapt out of their chairs backstage to give her a standing ovation as she swept past.

Mr. Obama, who was in the first steps of what would become a strategic courtship, called afterward to thank her. By then, close aides to Mrs. Clinton said, she had come to respect the campaign Mr. Obama had run against her. At the least, she knew he understood like no one else the brutal strains of their epic primary battle.

By this past Thursday, when Mr. Obama reassured Mrs. Clinton that as secretary of state she would have direct access to him and could select her own staff, the wooing was complete.

UNHAPPY TOGETHER President Bush and Colin Powell had a strained relationship. Enlarge+

UNHAPPY TOGETHER President Bush and Colin Powell had a strained relationship. Enlarge+

“She feels like she’s been treated very well in the way she’s been asked,” said a close associate of Mrs. Clinton, who like others interviewed asked for anonymity because the nomination will not be formally announced until after Thanksgiving.

Few are predicting that this new relationship born of mutual respect and self-interest will grow into a tight bond between the new president and the woman who will be the public face of his foreign policy, though some say it is not impossible. They argue that a close friendship between the two powerful officials is useful but not essential, and is not a predictor of the success of the nation’s chief diplomat.

While James A. Baker III was extraordinarily close to the first President George Bush and is widely considered one of the most successful recent secretaries of state, Dean Acheson was not a friend of Harry S. Truman and Henry A. Kissinger did not particularly like Richard M. Nixon.

“Two of the nation’s greatest secretaries of state in the modern period, Dean Acheson and Henry Kissinger, were not personally close but were intellectually bonded to their presidents,” said Walter Isaacson, the author of a biography of Mr. Kissinger and the co-author, with Evan Thomas, of “The Wise Men,” a book about America’s postwar foreign policy establishment. “I think that Obama and Clinton could form a perfect partnership based on respect for each other’s view of the world.”

TIGHT TEAM James A. Baker III’s success lay in his ties to the first President Bush Enlarge+

TIGHT TEAM James A. Baker III’s success lay in his ties to the first President Bush Enlarge+

Colin L. Powell, who was President Bush’s first-term celebrity secretary of state, would appear to be a cautionary tale for Mrs. Clinton since his relationship with the president was strained, and he left office an unhappy man. But Mr. Bush’s second-term secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is generally not viewed as having the success her unusually tight bond with the president might have engendered.

 

In the Obama-Clinton relationship, advisers say, the relatively smooth nature of their talks about the secretary of state job indicate that both, for now, have a working chemistry. The advisers say that Mr. Obama was clearly interested in bringing a rival under his wing, and that he also recognized that Mrs. Clinton had far more discipline and focus than her husband.

At the same time, Mr. Obama’s advisers said, he had the self-confidence to name a global brand as his emissary to the world. He recognizes, they said, that after Jan. 20, he will have to build the kind of relationship that ensures that foreign leaders know that when Mrs. Clinton speaks, she is speaking directly for him.

Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Enlarge+

Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Enlarge+

“It helps to have a relationship that Bush had with Baker, that’s no doubt true,” said Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel, who was a supporter of Mrs. Clinton in the primary battles. “But if they are seen as working together effectively, I think that can be easily overcome. I don’t think he would have decided to appoint her if he didn’t want her to be effective.”

 

One close adviser to Mr. Obama said the president-elect also saw that Mrs. Clinton’s political skills would serve her well in the job, as happened with Mr. Baker and Mr. Kissinger. “They understood that statecraft is politics by another name,” the adviser said.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton first spoke after their primary fight on a flight in June to Unity, N.H., their first stage-managed appearance after he won the nomination. As they settled into their seats on his plane, the conversation, according to people on both sides, was far less awkward than they had feared. Over the passing weeks, the relationship gradually improved.

“They got past this long before their supporters and the party activists did,” said one Democrat who is close to both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Enlarge+

Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Enlarge+

After Mrs. Clinton’s speech in support of Mr. Obama at the Democratic convention, she crisscrossed the country tirelessly to campaign for him — so much so that he told aides he was impressed by the sheer number of events she was doing on his behalf.

Mrs. Clinton, it should be said, was herself diligent in advertising how hard she was working for the man who defeated her. When announcing her appearances, her press office included tallies of how many events she had held for Mr. Obama, and in how many states. At some rallies, organizers would distribute “Hillary Sent Me” buttons, as if Mrs. Clinton was being magnanimous by “sending” her followers to vote for Mr. Obama.

But Mr. Obama began calling Mrs. Clinton after some of the events — he dialed directly from his cellphone to hers one day in Michigan and another day in Florida — to check in and thank her for helping. By then, their intense primary fights over policy, which both sides now insist was more about heat than substance, had long receded.

“The reality at the end of the day was, whether it was Iran or health care or some of these other issues, we were always fighting big battles over small differences,” said a senior aide to Mr. Obama, adding that “in a campaign, conflict is what you go to.”

Substantively, the two were at odds over the Iraq war — Mrs. Clinton voted to authorize it and Mr. Obama said he would have opposed it had he been in the Senate then — and to a lesser extent over negotiations with Iran. But although Mrs. Clinton criticized Mr. Obama for being willing to sit down and talk to dictators, he has said he would have a lower-level envoy do preparatory work for a meeting with Iran’s leaders first. Mrs. Clinton has said she favors robust diplomacy with Iran and lower-level contacts as well.

In the weeks just before the election, the relationship between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton further mellowed, even as she found herself in a startling role reversal with her younger rival. As a celebrity senator and powerhouse on Capitol Hill, she had helped Mr. Obama in his Senate race and offered advice when he first came to Washington; now she was the workhorse for a political phenomenon.

Since the election, Mrs. Clinton has talked to Mr. Obama only a handful of times, even as two close advisers to Mr. Obama who held top positions in the Clinton administration — Rahm Emanuel and John D. Podesta — have served as key negotiators between her and the president-elect on the secretary of state position.

But Mrs. Clinton has talked several times to Michelle Obama about raising a family in the White House and private schools in Washington. On Friday, Mrs. Obama said the two Obama girls, Malia and Sasha, would attend the Sidwell Friends School, just as Chelsea Clinton did.

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Chicago, and Mark Leibovich from Washington.

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2/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

3/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

4/4 Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

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