Yesterday was all about the speeches, the music, the clothes and the balls, with the press analysing each in painstaking detail. Now, with the Inauguration circus finally out of the way, work begins in earnest for the new leader of the free world. As Obama spends his first day in the oval office, the commentators look forward to what the new regime may bring.

A brand-new day. In his inaugural address Tuesday, Barack Obama identified “a sapping of confidence across our land” as one of many worrisome symptoms of American crisis. On Wednesday he moved remarkably quickly to restore national confidence in a dizzying day of action on symbols and substance, all of it pretty much pitch-perfect. — Joan Walsh, Salon

Work begins today. Too many of us in the media remain reluctant “to set aside childish things.” Happily, though, our new President seems to have an honest predilection for treating his opponents with respect. He seems intent on hearing their points of view and arguing, decorously, with them — that’s why he accepted a dinner invitation at conservative columnist George Will’s house. This is radical behavior in the village on the Potomac. It could force everyone to argue more carefully, to think twice before casting aspersions, to remember that the goal has to be more than temporal electoral victories — but, in this moment of peril, a better and stronger nation, a less ugly and dangerous world. — Joe Klein, TIME

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What Obama brings to conservatives. If Obama lives up to the dreams of his supporters in writing a new, post-racial chapter for America, he will have at once done more for America than any Democratic president in generations. But he also will have cut the knot holding much of the left together. — Jonah Goldberg, NRO

Guantánamo: the next step. Tackling Guantánamo is seen as a discrete problem, relatively simple to solve when compared to economic meltdowns and wars raging around the globe, an action that can put open water between the Obama administration and George Bush. But if there is one thing we have learned in the last eight years, it is to be slow to issue the bombastic conclusion, “Mission Accomplished”. Obama has been left with a chalice that is overflowing with poison and, in addition to his own commitment, he is going to need help if he is to drain it away.  — Clive Stafford Smith, Guardian

Obama and the new center. [Obama] will reach out to bring the Republicans back toward the center, where he hopes that goodwill and patriotic emotion can bring us together to lift us out of the ditch into which their ideology drove us. But now the center will be found in a different place –and bipartisanship again describes a consensus led by liberal Democrats. — Joe Conason, New York Observor

The new American feeling. The United States has got its groove back. The 44th president is seen by many, both at home and abroad, as a beacon of hope in a crisis-ridden world. Can the emotions awakened by his election and inauguration lead to the yearned for political renewal? — Gabor Steingart, Der Spiegel

A new hope for justice. Today, Barack Obama has completed his choices for the Justice Department’s “brains”, and his picks provide good reason for hope that the old Justice Department — an organization of which all Americans can be proud — is returning. — Scott Horton, Harper’s

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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