Obama’s Inaugural Address

January 21, 2009 at 12:14 am / by

I’ve just had a read of some of the blogs and articles commenting on Obama’s inaugural address and it looks like commentators are emphatically divided in their opinion. Whereas a few passionate supporters believe it was brilliant both in content and style, others are more skeptical.

Some of the contributors to Politico’s Arena Forum seem to be underwhelmed, calling the speech mediocre. Others were irritated because they thought Obama was patronising. Pejman Yousefzadeh, in a fairly hostile piece, said ‘Barack Obama told us that we need to grow up and forgot that we’ve been quite grown up for quite a while now.’

Personally, I thought the speech was solid, if a little low-key compared to the powerful rhetoric that’s been prevalent throughout his campaign. He’s obviously managing people’s expectations which is a sensible thing to do.

Of course, we expect a change as the entire campaign was fought on a platform for change, but ultimately he’s only human. People who view him as some kind of prophet need to be realistic about what he can achieve.

The speech was obviously the main topic of conversation in the corridors of powers in Parliament today and it seems like a lot of people were surprised that he didn’t make more of America’s racial history. I actually thought this line ‘…and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath’ was the perfect way to make reference to America’s past.

I liked the fact that he didn’t overstate it. To be honest, the fact that a black man is delivering the inaugural speech is statement enough. I don’t think he needs to hammer the point home anymore.

Some of the newspapers have said ‘Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America’ is the most memorable line of the speech. It’s a strong line but I don’t think that sentence has the power that Roosevelt’s ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’ or J F Kennedy’s ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’ have.

Is this an indication that his speech is forgettable? Or perhaps it’s just not Obama’s style to deliver illustrious one-liners? Any thoughts on this?

Anyway, I’d better go and do some research on nationalism in Slovakia for my Master’s class tomorrow. By the way, please buy the Ham & High this week if you want to read more of my writing … ok, maybe I’m pushing my luck now!




  1. Curious Optimist says:

    Good insights tulip. I agree that Obama doesnt need to keep ranting on about his heritage – people should be able to see him beyond being African American and if people continue to talk about it, i feel as though they’re not giving his intellect enough credit.
    Is managing peoples expectations an actual political strategy?

  2. Moin Kazi says:

    Hello Tulip. This is a great take on Obama’s inaugural address. It is interesting to see the point of view from someone outside of the USA.
    I personally would not rank this speech as one of his best. Nonetheless, it was a great speech. I know it because I was there! There were millions of people and seemed to me, they were all moved by his speech.
    I honestly did not expect more from him. He needs to calm people down, especially those who are thinking that Obama is going to turn the country around in no time. It is important to be hopeful, but I feel that Obama did not make “Hope” the key points of his speech. However, he did talk about change. I might need to listen to the speech again as I was so overwhelmed just to be there that I wasn’t really able to sink it all in.
    Right now I am just happy because Bush is no longer in the white house and there is no way he will be coming back. Ever.