January 21, 2009

B for the first part, B+ for the middle and A for the wind up. . .

... would be the scores I would give the 44th President's Inaugural speech (cnn link here)

Unlike the campaign speeches, the tone was sober--at times, even somber--but the speech itself was filled with hope. As called for by the occasion, it had greater gravitas as befitted his new stature as the 44th President of the world's only superpower. Many have said it was long on eloquence, short on details--perhaps. But, again, perhaps that is what is needed at the moment.

Borrowing liberally from Shakespeare ("this winter of our hardship" echoes the first lines from Richard III's soliloquy "Now is the winter of our discontent..."), Lincoln ("a new birth of freedom", the theme of his inaugural comes from the Gettysburg address, and also "all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness", which also comes from Lincoln), John F. Kennedy ("a new generation of Americans" from JFK's 1961 inaugural address, as well as the references to other nations in relation to America) and from Obama himself (This portion, "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics", is his in structure, tenor and tone), Obama more than acquits himself, considering the extremely high expectations of this speech alone.

The reference to Washington and his rallying cry was, for me, not only well-chosen, but also well-placed--"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]." The reference to "hope and virtue" in the face of adversity and challenge set the tone for his great wind-up:

"America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

I'd give him a B for the first part, a B+ for the middle part and an A for the wind-up. That's for the speech, the jury's still out on the governance.

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