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Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech January 20, 2009

Posted by neoavatara in History, Politics.
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Mr. Obama became the 44th President of the United States today, and the first Minority president in our history. With his high minded oratory that was so useful to him during the Presidential campaign, many expected a speech of historic proportions. Some commentators even proclaimed that people’s excitement was peaked because they were ready to hear words ‘that would be etched in marble some day‘.

Obviously, that was absurd. No matter how great a speech Mr. Obama gave, nothing could meet that kind of expectation. But what kind of speech did he deliver? Well, his speech can be read in its entirety here, and can be watched on the video link above.

Well, in some ways it was quite unique among inaugural speeches. It was very somber, and dour.

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.”

Mr. Obama then went into a historical list…a list of challenges and triumphs. He then proceded with a list of our greatest problems: the economy, the falling markets, the wars, and foreign policy, and said we would confront each of them. No specificity in how he would handle each crisis, but this was not a speech intended for specifics. He then finished with these words:

“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.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

Overall, this was a good speech…but not a great one. In many respects, if you go back, this was similar to both Bill Clinton’s first inaugural, as well as George W. Bush’s first inaugural. Both presidents also entered their terms with recessions (all be it, less severe than this one) and with foreign policy issues on the forefront (though neither with the difficulties that lie before us now).

Additionally, like Bush and Clinton, there was really no central theme to Obama’s speech. It was a grand overview of the difficulties we face, and nothing more. And maybe more importantly for history, there are no real quotes or lines from either of the previoius two president’s inaugurals that history has recorded as ‘line for the ages’.

Liberal commentators have already proclaimed it a speech for the ages.  Again, I think that is ludicrous, and more of an emotional response than a reasoned one.  Mr. Obama’s inaugural speech will go down as a good, but not great, speech, on what was otherwise a momentous and historic day.  Like most inaugural speeches in the last generation, it is likely to be forgotten except for the pages of history.  And frankly, I think even Mr. Obama would rather be remembered for what he does in office than a speech he made in the minutes after he was sworn in as president.

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