Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama's Inauguration Speech

By Ben Trott

As of yesterday, at exactly 12:00 Eastern Time, Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. The full text of his inaugural speech can be read here, or viewed in the video player below. (Tradition pretty much obliges thanking the out-going president for his 'service to the country', but note the brevity with which Obama does so.)

Reactions to the speech are already in abundance. See, for example, the remarks by Michael Tomasky (editor of Guardian America), Arianna Huffington (founder of the Huffington Post), Ted Sorensen (Kennedy's speechwriter), Peter Hyman (one of Blair's old speechwriters), and John Nichols (the Nation's Washington correspondent).

The New York Times have assembled a team of speechwriters who have written for presidents Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Reagan and Bush Sr. to assess the inaugural address. Numerous commentators, such as the Washington Post op-ed columnist, George F. Will, Ken Silverstein the Washington editor of Harper's, Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief, David Corn, and the Sierra Club's Carl Pope have all chipped in. As has Hendrik Hertzberg over at the New Yorker. The Daily Kos website has put together an 'abbreviated pundit round-up'. The Guardian's Oliver Burkeman live-blogged the whole thing. And the web technology blog,, ran Obama's speech through a tag cloud generator. They then did the same with Clinton and Bush's second inaugural addresses, Reagan's first, and both of Lincoln's. It is quite an interesting way of comparing key themes and phrases. Take a look, here.

Every other aspect of the day is, of course, also being examined. From Michelle Obama's outfit, designed by Cuban-born fashion designer Isabel Toledo, to Aretha Franklin's rendition of My Country 'Tis of Thee (and predictably, her most spectacular of hats), and Elizabeth Alexander's poem, Praise Song for the Day (transcript here).

Tom Englehardt, in the preamble to his latest article at website, wrote,
'Inauguration Day!
'Gazillions of Americans descended on Washington. The rest of us were watching on TV or checking out streaming video on our computers. No one was paying attention to anything else. Every pundit in sight was nattering away all day long, as they will tomorrow and, undoubtedly, the next day about whatever comes to mind until we get bored.'
Hyperbole aside, the speech and Obama's taking of office has - understandably - generated an enormous amount of discussion and debate. I hope the links provided above enable you to find a way in. As planned, I will be winding down this blog over the next couple of days.

No comments: