Yikes. As far as I can tell, Mikkel has caught a direct factual error in Obama's inaugural address. It was Thomas Paine, not George Washington who wrote the "depth of winter" thing. How embarassing.

Me? I was underwhelmed by the speech itself. I think it didn't help define the moment or his presidency. There were no game-changers in it. I don't really have a problem with the high style of the speech, which seemed to fit the momentousness of the occasion. But I did think that there was too many nicely turned phrases that were just generalisations. I would have loved him to delve into specifics about what responsibility means, for instance. And I would have liked him to outline what he thinks the role of the people or of democracy is in his administration. Also, I would have hoped to have heard an entire inaugural speech without American exceptionalism. But no.

But despite all that, the crowd loved it. So that particular test was passed.


Anonymous Thor said...

Too many nicely turned phrases that were just generalisations? I don't agree. I was surprised by how specific he was; how context aware, if you like, the speech was. Saw a commentator at Aftenposten point that out too.

January 21, 2009 11:59 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

Wellll... as I've argued previously, in an op-ed I had in BT on the day of the election, I agree with you that he is an extraordinarily context-sensitive speaker. He knows what the situation is, and what he has to do to change it. That was really what I thought the problem was. He didn't redefine any standing problems, merely set out the same list of policy proposals he always does, but in a more flowery language. I desperately wanted him to catch some theme, something that defines the moment and run with it. He didn't it. He safed it. As it was, the speech had no clear theme, no clear argument except that he's going to do what he's going to do. And he put some US exceptionalism in there to boot. I find myself hoping that his inaugural address DOESN't define the presidency, you know? I'd rather have had one of the really great speeches, like "A More Perfect Union" or his keynote speech at the convention. If nothing else, they were both far more quotable.

January 22, 2009 12:23 am  
Anonymous Thor said...

Sorry Martin, I don't get your criticism. The speech wasn't without theme. The theme (surprise surprise!) was change. Wanting and expecting something different seems strange. Why would he want to change (sic) the winning formula at this time?

Don't get to hung up on quotability. The speech was fine. It was more than fine. This guy is so bright. Good times are ahead. Let's enjoy it.

January 22, 2009 1:13 am  

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