Republicans expressed disappointment or distaste for what they took as partisanship in President Barack Obama's second inaugural address. Democrats exulted in what they viewed as his manifesto for a progressive political agenda in his second term.
I heard something quite different. Through allusions to the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the words of Abraham Lincoln, Obama linked the challenges of today to the ongoing project of creating a more perfect union.
His alliterative reference to Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall linked the contemporary civil rights struggles of African-Americans, women and gays to the longer historical quest in America of proving we really meant our declaration that all men are created equal and have certain inalienable rights.
Obama didn't reveal anything new in his comments. He merely put these struggles into the context of a country that has evolved its understanding of what those words mean, a thoroughly appropriate theme for a presidential inauguration occurring on the same day we commemorated the words and deeds of Martin Luther King, Jr.
As he took one long last look up the Mall, seeing a teeming crowd stretching to the Lincoln Memorial, many thoughts undoubtedly flashed through Obama's mind. Those thoughts perhaps included his attempt to replicate the feat of Lincoln who tied preservation of the Union and, ultimately, abolition of slavery to the founding principles of our Republic.