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.