Category Archives: Inauguration

Answering a British Critic

Last week, a distinguished British blogger took issue with a January 19th posting in which I said that, “Inaugural addresses invariably remind us of America’s historically unmatched commitment to popular sovereignty and individual liberty…”  I’d like to respond. The blogger was Max Atkinson and his challenge is here. As he wrote: My point is not […]

Where Were the Memorable Phrases?

At the risk of talking ancient history, I want to return to Tuesday’s inaugural address and dispute a criticism of it, or more accurately, dispute the criticism’s relevance in assessing the speech’s quality —the criticism that it included no memorable phrases. Can you think of any memorable phrase coming from President Obama in his two […]

Diplomatic Deciphering

Last week I had the pleasure of appearing on a Brookings Institution panel devoted to the implications of President Obama’s inaugural address for U.S. foreign policy.  Many of the questions my co-panelists Michael Gerson, Michael Fullilove, Carlos Pascual and I received had to do with signals being sent (or not) to specific countries and governments […]

Calcium Build Up

Wait, what’s that lump in my back?  Should I call the doctor?  Let me feel around back there . . . There seems to be a long, ridged boney protrusion in the middle of my back, rising from my hips, up the length of my torso, into my brain.  Could it be a spine? Oh […]

High Hopes, Low Expectations

Reaction to President Obama’s inaugural address has been fairly tempered in the 22 hours since it was delivered. Aside from Mark and Clark, no one seems to think it was a home run. Few seem to think it will be memorable in and of itself – apart from the reality of Obama’s place in history. […]

A Leader For Us All

In his inaugural address, President Obama spoke with force and depth – and went far to confirm himself as more than the winner of an election, but as the leader of the entire country. In broad strokes he did what every president does in his first speech on entering office: He reaffirmed the American experience […]

21st Century Era of Good Feelings

Listening to President Obama’s magnificent Inaugural address today, I am struck by his ability to hit on what every American craves out of Washington—a willingness to put work before politics. “On this day,” he said, “we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that […]

E-Change Has Come

We already knew that President Obama would author a new chapter in presidential communication.  Beyond his personal writing talents and his signature speaking style, he and his team have made the most of new technologies to spread his message — with the result that the clock has been turned back on the soundbite-ization of America; […]

“These things are old. These things are true.”

So the moment has passed; the address is delivered. It will be remembered, probably not as one of the best, but certainly as one of the most consequential. Everyone will take their own piece of it with them. Here’s what I took. The most heart-stirring line, coming near the end of the speech, captured the […]

The Eyes of John Lewis

Up to three million sets of eyes are expected to look upon the West Front of the United States Capitol today as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. But I can’t help but think of one set of eyes in particular that will look in the other direction: […]

Thoughts Before the Inaugural

Whatever your politics, today is a day of great moments. In one profound respect, Barack Obama’s inauguration is similar to those of Andrew Jackson and John F. Kennedy, not so much as a matter of American politics, but of American culture.  A group that felt excluded to one degree or another from the American system […]

A Full Plate

The normally unbearable Richard Cohen pulls out a nice piece today in the Washington Post. He reminds us that, aside from Lincoln and Kennedy and all, Barack Obama will have a few other things on his mind as he steps up to the podium to deliver his inaugural address. He also (inadvertently?) previews the first […]

Nobody Puts Biden in the Corner

On The Oprah Winfrey Show yesterday – the day before Inauguration Day – Jill Biden told the audience that Barack Obama gave her husband, Joe, the option of being either vice president or Secretary of State. Doh! Furthermore, Mrs. Biden suggested that her husband chose the VP slot because it would involve less travel, sort of the […]

Anticipating the Inaugural Address

First inaugural addresses mark a moment at once sacramental and instrumental. The secular sacrament — the outward and visible sign of the inward, invisible grace in our polity — is the American democracy’s peaceful transfer of power.  Through the contentiousness of an election campaign, the people’s mandate, not just for this or that leader, but […]

Echos of Faulkner on the Mall

I was struck by a phrase in President-elect Obama’s remarks to the throng who’d gathered for today’s “We Are One” extravaganza at the Lincoln Memorial.  After saying that few generations have confronted the kind of challenges we face today, and warning that meeting these manifold challenges will take not months but years, Obama asserted, “But […]