Will President Obama’s inauguration speech matter?
George Packer wants Obama’s second inaugural speech to make the history books:
I hope Obama surprises us. I hope he throws out the kind of boilerplate that made last year’s convention speech one of the weaker ones in Charlotte. I hope that Obama the writer finds some vivid prose for the occasion; that Obama the thinker treats us like his intellectual equals, as he did in Philadelphia and Oslo; and that Obama the man allows himself the risk of deep feeling, as he did in Tucson and Newtown. Most of all, I hope Obama the politician is willing to say things that some people might not want to hear.
Michael Kazin, on the other hand, downplays the speech:
If the most eloquent addresses rarely set the agenda for an administration, the forgettable ones seldom damage the president who utters them. In 1969, as thousands of angry anti-war protestors streamed along Pennsylvania Avenue, Richard Nixon gave a speech stuffed with banalities that did nothing to soften his combative image: “To lower our voices would be a simple thing…The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep…Until he has been part of a cause larger than himself, no man is truly whole.” But most of the policies he carried out in the next four years were quite popular, and he won re-election by one of the biggest margins in U.S. history.