Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The price and the promise of citizenship

What to make of Obama's inauguration speech?

I listened to it live as I drove home from work yesterday. A few phrases stuck with me, but I got the impression that he was holding back, toning down the oratory. It was good, but not necessarily great.

Tonight I watched it and took notes (as a cloudscape) and the themes became clearer. He was holding back, there was a seriousness in his demeanour to match the mood of the times. But his speech was loaded with social justice and historical references; it was determined and forward-looking; positive and realistic. For me, the common refrains throughout the speech were 'enduring' and 'extending'.

It may not be the greatest speech in history, or the greatest inauguration speech from a President, or even the greatest speech from Obama, but there was a forceful honesty about it that I admire greatly.

I need to read it now to get another view of it, but for now - it wasn't what I was expecting, but it was a pleasant and challenging surprise.


That Hideous Man said...

It was indeed a fascinating speech, marked I felt by two things.

Firstly the repeated assertion that in Foreign policy America has lost its moral claim to 'leadership' - and that this is something that he will recapture.

Secondly the whole tone of the speech was so different from the campaign that it was amazing. "Yes we can" was his mantra, but his speech yesterday sounded like, "yes we can, probably, and over a very long period of time, hopefully".

Tess said...

I very much liked the address. I agree that there was a seriousness that matched the times.
I thought it was an intelligent, many-layered speech that didn't try to 'preach' the message into people's heads (as some of his oratory is a little prone to).
And unusually, it's a speech that rewards reading as much as listening.
For that reason, I think it will last, and perhaps grow in our collective memories.
PS: I'm so happy! Until I think of Gordon Brown and David Cameron...