Last evening, Barack Obama gave the best speech of this presidency. President Obama’s rhetoric is reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s. So it is fitting that President Obama's best effort came the week before we celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's celebrated inaugural address.
The president at his best is a calming influence in troubled times. Last night, he reassured an anxious nation that things would be fine if we practiced civility and humility. His speech reminded me of his performance during his third debate with John McCain in October 2008. The nation was teetering at the brink of a financial collapse and the Republican presidential nominee’s testy responses made voters even more anxious than they already were. Barack Obama was soothing that night and made voters feel that if we all took a deep breath and relaxed, things would be all right.
While Barack Obama was at his best, Sarah Palin was at her worst. If yesterday was a preview of the 2012 presidential campaign, Republicans should run for the hills. The president’s job is to give voice to the hopes and fears of Americans and he did that very well. Fifty years ago, President Kennedy captured the dreams of a new generation at his inaugural. Yesterday, all the former half-term governor of Alaska accomplished gave voice to was her own paranoia. And Americans already have enough of their own paranoia to deal with. [See editorial cartoons about Sarah Palin.]
But what Barack Obama does best; he does very well.