President Obama’s second inaugural address, by the numbers

January 21, 2013

President Obama's second inaugural address is in the books.

In broad strokes, Obama delved into the nation's past and its future as he called on ordinary Americans to "shape the debates of our time."

Below is a by-the-numbers look at Obama's speech, from large to small. What'd we miss? The comments section is open for business. And if you missed the speech, don't worry, we've got you covered with the two-minute version:

1.1 million -- The number of tweets during the inaugural ceremony, according to Twitter. (There were only 82,000 from a much-smaller Twitter in 2009). Peak moment: "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle ... name calling as a substitute for debate." -- 27,795 tweets per minute.

2,114 -- The number of words the president used. He used 2404 in 2009.

18.5 — The number of minutes Obama spoke. The president started his address about 11:53 a.m. and ended at 12:12 p.m.

7 — The number of times Obama used the word "together." As senior White House adviser David Plouffe said in a preview of the speech Sunday, Obama pushed for Americans to find common ground. Washington is as divided as ever, though, and the tough debates that will play out in the nation's capital (gun control, the deficit/spending, immigration reform) in the coming months are ripe for the same bickering that have stalled many previous debates.

6 — The number of times Obama used the word "journey." In his speech, Obama sought to draw attention to the nation's unfinished business. America's "journey," he said, isn't complete until women can earn a living that is equal to men's, until gays and lesbians are treated the same as everyone else under the law, and until the nation's immigration system is fixed, among other things.

5 — The number of times Obama said "We, the people." The president kicked off his speech by discussing the Constitution, a theme he drew upon again and again in his address, as he presented his view of how and where the past and the present meet. "Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time," Obama said.

3 — The number of times Obama used the words "economic" or "economy." Inaugural addresses are not meant to be policy-heavy; the president's upcoming State of the Union address  will be the venue for the specifics of his agenda.

1 — The number of times Obama mentioned the issue of climate change.  In a speech heavy on broad rhetoric and light on policy specifics, it was notable that Obama mentioned climate change. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," Obama said. While issues such as immigration reform, the nation's fiscal shape and gun control have dominated the president's agenda lately, he seemed to be telling those who have been calling for action on the politically sensitive issue of climate change that he will get to it before the end of his new term.

0 — The number of times Obama said "guns" or "gun control." To repeat, inaugural addresses are not typically venues for detailed policy proposals, so it was not surprising that Obama did not specifically mention gun control. He did allude to it, though, when he said: "Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."

 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Aaron Blake · January 21, 2013