Almost as a symbol of what is to come in Barack Obama’s second presidential term beginning this holiday weekend, a sharp but refreshing winter blast blew through usually-staid Washington and brought many hundreds of thousands to the National Mall to celebrate his inauguration.

Even as temperatures dropped to nearly 20 degrees Fahrenheit and numbed the fingers of any would-be tweeters from the inauguration site on Capitol Hill, the 44th President appeared both pleased and determined as strongly hinted at the liberal policy agenda that might follow over the next four years.

Repeatedly invoking the “We, the people” clause of the U.S. Constitution in his rich baritone, Mr. Obama stressed equality of all man as he promised to effect change in the policy spheres of gay rights, environmental campaigns, gun control legislation and comprehensive immigration reform.

Paying tribute to recent tragic events such as the Newtown shootings and Hurricane Sandy Mr. Obama said, “Our journey is not complete until all our children... know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

While he had struck a far more conciliatory note after winning last November’s election, almost holding out hope to build bridges with a Congressional opposition that has blocked him at every turn, conservatives may have found his tone a little more jarring this time.

In an unapologetic reference to what he believed was the government’s role he said, “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.” He also hit out at what he described was the mistaking of absolutism for principle, the substitution of spectacle for politics, or and at treating “name-calling as reasoned debate.”

Egged on by the crowd’s chants of “Four more years!” the President’s delivery of the speech was emotional towards its climax, after which he warmly hugged the First Lady and his two daughters, and Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife.