The Barack Obama Inaugural Was Very Good, But Only History Can Judge Its Greatness

It's too soon to tell how we will remember this address.


By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Barack Obama gave a typically good speech, which is drawing deserved praise. He may join FDR, JFK, and his hero, Abraham Lincoln, as having given the most memorable first inaugural addresses. But beware snap judgments: Only with the fullness of history will we be able to rank this speech. The great inaugurals both reflect their presidents and presidencies and also mark political turning points: FDR, for example, starting the era of big government and Ronald Reagan (whose first inaugural is also memorable) ending it. It's too soon to tell the extent to which Obama's inaugural presages his years in office, and it is far too soon to tell whether we have witnessed the birth of a new political era.

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