Thursday, January 24, 2013

Inaugural Address: Words, Phrases and More

[NOTE:  This is not a political analysis of the President's Inaugural Address, but rather a commentary on its themes, words and phrases, as well as the accuracy of the criticisms leveled.]

The naysayers are out on Obama's Inaugural Address:

·         "It was too short"

·         "Too many specifics.  This should be a vision speech."

·         "No memorable sentences or phrases."

·         "No call for action."

·         "No outreach to the other side."

·         "He forgot about the private sector."

What is my take on these criticisms?

At 18 minutes, it was not too short, but definitely one of the shorter ones (the Gettysburg address was 2 minutes).  The specifics he gave made the speech realistic.  His vision was living up to the American ideal of equality, equal opportunity for all.  That, indeed, was the call for action, an ideal that has never been totally achieved in this great country since it was first introduced in The Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

There were no memorable phrases such as FDR's "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  But there were beautifully written, meaningful phrases and sentences, whether you agree with the content or not, as noted below:

·         "We are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together."

·         "We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky and happiness for the few."

·         "We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."

·         "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall."

·         The structure of the speech, Obama borrowed from the U.S. Constitution, using "we the people," "still believe" or "declare today" in sequential paragraphs, individually focusing on security, dignity, posterity and equality.

·         Finally, he used "our journey is not complete," also in sequential paragraphs, focusing on equal pay, gender-based equality, the right to vote, immigration and safety.

Greater outreach to the other side?  This speech was about the unfettered vision of true equality, calling for everyone everywhere to embrace this concept.

I do believe Obama failed to include the importance of the private sector, (e.g., Wall Street, Silicon Valley, small business) as the wealth-creation part of the mosaic that makes everything else possible.

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