Like my colleague Robert Schlesinger at Thomas Jefferson Street, I, too, was fascinated by President Obama's speech. I was looking for that "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" or "ask not what your country can do for you"-type line and never heard it.
Today, at a panel put on by the National Journal, Don Baer, former Clinton chief speechwriter and now PR powerhouse, called the speech "Good, but not great."
Karen Hughes, former President Bush's communications czarina, also called it a "missed opportunity" to unite the nation around one single theme.
Baer, Mark Penn (a Democratic public relations professional), and others speculated that the Obama staff did not want to write a soaring speech at a time when it's most vital for the new president to downplay expectations. As I've blogged before, all agreed his biggest challenge now that he's in office is proving that he can run the country. Part of doing that is getting his fans to realize he's a man, not a god.