During the Reagan years, one of my politically attuned daughters always refused to voice her opinion on the president’s speeches until she’d read the full text in the newspaper the next day. Smart girl. On Monday, minutes after President Obama gave his Second Inaugural Address, my take on it was more positive than it was after I had read the written copy.
Inaugural addresses, given every four years, are opportunities for a president to make history by articulating a vision for the country that will resonate now and possibly through the ages. President Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Speech got off to a good start, but ultimately fell short. Rather than helping to unite the country, by speaking to all Americans, he chose to energize primarily his party. He did not speak to the Republicans he will have to negotiate with in the coming months and years, nor did he focus much on global security issues. I wanted the president to outline the grand strategy he will advance in leading this country and the world through the perilous times ahead. But his remarks were mostly domestic in nature. And the only time he alluded to leadership was in the context of clean energy.
What President Obama did do was demonstrate energy and resolve. These are welcome attributes, which will serve him well if he remembers that his job performance and his legacy will depend on moving all Americans forward, not just constituents of his own political party.
Interviewed within minutes of the speech, I spoke to Jeremy Thompson in London on Sky News: