More analysis and reaction to President Obama’s inaugural speech

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More analysis and reaction to President Obama’s inaugural speech. The first edition was here.

Jonathan Chair frames it in terms of good and evil:

The Obama who begins his second term is much more acutely aware that the opposing party rejects, at the most philosophical level, the definition of the good that he has put forward as the national creed. Four years ago he expressed a jaunty confidence that the differences must be bridged. Today he committed himself to the same goal, but with a wariness borne of harsh experience.

Kevin Drum thought “this was a more explicitly political inauguration speech than usual”:

Sure enough, the Fox News commenters seem distinctly unhappy with this speech. Brit Hume is complaining that the economy is still terrible. Chris Wallace says Obama didn’t reach out to conservatives at all. Bret Baer thinks it was basically a challenge to Republicans not to try and mess with the welfare state. Megyn Kelly says that even the Washington Post thinks Obama is too liberal. And so far, we’ve only heard from the relatively moderate wing of Fox pundits.

James Fallows believes this was the most sustainedly “progressive” statement Barack Obama has made in his decade in the national eye.

I was expecting an anodyne tone-poem about healing national wounds, surmounting partisanship, and so on. As has often been the case, Obama confounded expectations — mine, at least. Four years ago, when people were expecting a barn-burner, the newly inaugurated president Obama gave a deliberately downbeat, sober-toned presentation about the long challenges ahead. Now — well, it’s almost as if he has won re-election and knows he will never have to run again and hears the clock ticking on his last chance to say what he cares about. If anyone were wondering whether Obama wanted to lower expectations for his second term … no, he apparently does not.

Zack Ford is grateful for the gay rights shout-out:

As the first inaugural address to ever highlight the struggle for LGBT equality and the lives and families of gays and lesbians, this speech will no doubt be recorded in the annals of history as a pivotal moment in the long journey for social justice and freedom from oppression.

Ezra Klein heard a call to arms.

This was not a speech that assumed that the disagreements that split our politics are based on the psychodramas of the past nor that they will fall easily before the onslaught of the future. But it was a speech, more so than most Obama has offered, that signaled his intention to join the battle of ideas, to use his bully pulpit to make an aggressive and uncompromising case for why his side is right, and to not rest until the American people agree that the other side is wrong.

Megan McArdle was underwhelmed:

I side with the liberals on one thing: it was arguably the most liberal speech our president has given.  Which is news, of a sort.  But I side with the conservatives in thinking that this was largely a big yawn.  The president gave a speech which [makes] his base happy, but entirely on symbolic grounds.  He promised nothing of substance, and covered no issue which actually commits him to delivering anything.  Obama is against “perpetual war”, but also wants to support democracy and “act on behalf of those who long for freedom.” He wants shorter voting lines and “a better way to welcome” immigrants.  He wants children to be safe and cared for.   The last is a vague hope shared by all Americans (no really–even the ones who disagree with you about stuff!)  The rest are carefully phrased to offer no actual benchmarks.

Like Sullivan, Alex Massie heard echoes of Reagan:

[Y]ou could see why comparisons with Ronald Reagan are not so far-fetched. It is not so much that Obama can deliver a decent speech (though he’s not as good a communicator as Reagan was) rather the manner in which he couches his argument. Obama, more than most politicians but rather like Reagan, talks in such a fashion that you suspect he finds it hard to believe that anyone could truly and honestly and decently disagree with him and certainly no intelligent or generous person could. The goodness of his ideas and his intentions is presumed; opposition to them must be predicated upon something sinister. Reagan could speak like this too and, like Obama, he made it seem as though there might be something disagreeable about disagreeing with the President.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.