SAN DIEGO -- To make sense of the relationship between President Obama and Latinos at the start of his second term, you must separate appearance from reality.
The appearance is that Latinos are gaining power, as evidenced by the fact that they were prominently on display during the inauguration.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden. Richard Blanco was the inauguration poet. And the Rev. Luis Leon delivered the benediction -- part of it in Spanish.
Latino celebrities and politicos danced to salsa music at an event called "Latino Inaugural 2013: In Performance at the Kennedy Center." Hosted by Eva Longoria, a co-chair for Obama's re-election campaign, the star-studded gathering was meant as a tribute to a president who earned 71 percent of the Latino vote.
Biden showed up and thanked Latinos for their support in the election of 2012 -- while courting them for his potential run at the presidency in four years.
"One thing that happened in this election, you spoke," Biden told the crowd. "You spoke in a way that the world, and I mean the world, as well as the United States, could not fail to hear. This is your moment. America owes you."
Meanwhile, Longoria, who has a film production company, wants to go from making movies to making policy.
"I think we have a permanent seat at the table, and now we're going to be able to have influence on what affects our communities," she said.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and one of the party's rising superstars, even got a little carried away and compared Obama to John F. Kennedy.
"As we said 'Viva Kennedy' 50 years ago, today we say 'Viva Obama,'" Castro said.
Copyright 2013 Washington Post Writers Group