The file left, on the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, by former President George Bush for the forty-fourth president, Barack H. Obama – courtesy of the Boston Globe
Some have said they’ve been disappointed by Obama’s inaugural speech, saying it lacked a memorable poetic line in the tradition of FDR or JFK. What?! After a mere sixteen hours, they think they are in a position to evaluate the memorable-ness of a speech? Come on! FDR died almost fifty-four years ago, and JFK just over forty-five years ago: it takes time for history to define what might or might not emerge as memorable. For goodness sake. (For what it’s worth, my money is on his offer of friendship to leaders around the world who will renounce violence and corruption in favour of mutual respect –
[…] we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.)
Here is an excerpt from Andrew Sullivan’s take –
Mulling over the address yesterday, I felt in retrospect that the restraint and classical tropes of the speech were deliberate and wise. From the moment he gave his election night victory speech, Obama has been signaling great caution in the face of immense challenges. The tone is humble. We know he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion; which is why his decision to calm those feelings and to engage his opponents and to warn of impending challenges is all the more impressive. He’s a man, it seems to me, who knows the difference between bravado and strength, between an adolescent “decider” and a mature president, between an insecure brittleness masquerading as power, and the genuine authority a real president commands. He presides. He can set a direction and a mood, but he invites the rest of us to move the ball forward: in a constitutional democracy, we are always the ones we’ve been waiting for.
He is not a messiah and does not act or speak like one. He’s a traditionalist in many ways.