Obama's Speech

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Even the wordsmithy among us have been at an unusual loss for words to capture the manifold and historic dimensions of the Obama inauguration.

I suppose it might have been too much to ask for Obama himself to do it for us. But there was an opening in today's historic ceremony for a truly historic speech.

This address fell considerably short of that mark. I can remember lines that cheered me for the morning -- about not sacrificing our ideals for safety -- but nothing that will live on in the manner of JFK or FDR's immortal exhortations.

The delivery was vintage Obama. But the content of the speech seemed to reach a lower altitude than many his soaring oratories throughout the campaign. Obama's forceful repudiation of the Bush administration and clear declaration to the world that America is back I think was the most successful element of the address.

On the domestic front, Obama was too state-of-the-uniony. Today was a day less for hard truths than celebration of the dawn of a new era. A long tall drink of water after eight years in the desert. I wanted my heart strings plucked. I wanted to float. To breathe again. To be lifted by the youth and charisma of our chief executive and to see past storms all around us to a brighter day.

Instead I was scolded for my childishness, and my escapism, and reminded of the icy currents that imperil my family.

Mind you: It wasn't a bad speech for its realism. These are sober times -- perhaps too sober for a shot of sunny optimism. And perhaps the speech was a shrewd exercise in expectations setting from a man who is after all only human. I just would have preferred a warmer welcome to the Age of Obama.