Lawrence D. Bobo: Obama's Velvet-Glove Inaugural Address

tags: inauguration, Barack Obama, Lawrence D. Bobo, The Root



Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University.

(The Root) -- Obama deserves very high but perhaps not superlative marks for his second inaugural address. It had more the character of an inside-the-park home run, not a grand slam. A 9 on my Olympic scorecard, not a full 10. Not a standout, A-plus effort, but certainly a quite solid A-minus. 

The speech will indeed be remembered, but probably not as one of his signature moments. In the same breath, let me say there is much that is clever and true and oh so right about this speech that is well worthy of praise.

Why not an A? First, save for his declarations about confronting global warming, the speech was a little too oblique in naming the current great challenges before us. He rightly did not want to sound a partisan note. And he understandably did not launch into a list of coming policy goals. But the paralysis in Washington brought on by the politics of economic brinkmanship, of the "my way or the highway" negotiation and of anti-government ideological extremity could have been called out more squarely.

To be sure, Obama stressed that the time has come to act. He also spoke of obligations in the present that have ramifying implications long into the future. And he repeatedly hit a note of American can-do optimism. Yet the forces standing in the path of rising to these challenges were never sharply identified....



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