You Won't Remember Today's Speech

Inaugural speeches nearly always forgettable: David Frum
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2013 9:33 AM CST
You Won't Remember Today's Speech
Spectators wave American flags on the National Mall in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Planning to watch President Obama's speech today? Don't get your hopes up. After all, how many inaugural speeches can we remember from the entirety of American history? Just a handful of lines from a few addresses, writes David Frum at CNN. That's in part because presidents use "overblown rhetoric" to mark the moment—but it's impolitic for them to make concrete pledges. "Grand language wrapped around a thin message produces only vapid blather."

Then there's the fact that it's often impossible for them to keep any promises they might make. "However beautifully written, a speech can only be made great by the presidency that follows," Frum notes. So what should Obama say? At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky calls for fighting words. He needs to tell Washington "that the second-term Obama is going to be a much tougher customer than the first." Forget about inaugural high-mindedness: "These are low-minded times, and he’s got some extremely low-minded opposition." Click for Frum's full column, or Tomasky's. (More David Frum stories.)

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