Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I am, of course, writing this before the pomp and circumstance begins. Invocations, speakers, processions, and tradition aside, I'm mostly hoping for a good Inaugural Address. Most are completely forgettable, full of optimistic platitudes and warm fuzzies, signifying absolutely nothing. Some have a memorable line or two, but date quickly and are soon forgotten. A few have been outright disasters. Only two have been universally hailed as superb----Lincoln's second and FDR's first.
I remember faking an illness and staying home from school to watch Bill Clinton's first Inauguration in 1993. The formalities and rituals of the ceremony were interesting, but the speech itself was largely a bore. This time around, I admit that one of the reasons I became a Obama supporter so quickly is that I have always admired those with substantial oratory skill; prior to his rise I had come to believe that in this sad day and age effective rhetoric was quickly growing extinct. One hopes that Obama will inspire a new generation of politicians and public speakers to aim for brilliance and deft speech-craft.
I have only one concern. President Obama has set the bar exceptionally high and is continuing to invite the Lincoln comparison. The instant he opens his mouth we'll half expect every word to be liquid gold, on par with his victory speech in Iowa or his speech on race in Philadelphia. I fear a letdown and will temper my expectations accordingly, though Obama has certainly risen to the challenge exceptionally well in times past. Like everyone else, I'll just wait and watch.