Friday 27 Apr 2018 | 05:22 | SYDNEY
Friday 27 Apr 2018 | 05:22 | SYDNEY

The inaugural address


Sam Roggeveen


21 January 2009 09:22

I admit to being a bit underwhelmed on first hearing the speech. Parts of it sounded almost like it could have been delivered on the campaign trail, with some unusually (for an inaugural) partisan jabs embedded in the typically flowery rhetoric.

But my first impressions are often wrong, and on looking at the transcript, I am impressed by how adult the speech is. There's a line about putting away childish things, a reference to the false promise of fame, and an overall theme of responsibility. You can read that, as Will Wilkinson does, as a vaguely creepy paternalism, but it struck me more as a necessary sobriety.

So far, the best short analysis of the speech I have seen is here, but I also liked this observation from The American Conservative, on what was not in Obama's speech:

I think it’s notable that Obama did not rattle any sabers, beyond vaguely saying that the terrorists will not win. That’s kind of remarkable: this president didn’t threaten any foreign countries in his inaugural address. I suspect it won’t be long before he walks the same path of militarism that Bush and Clinton followed, but his remarks today did not include the kind of bluster I expected.

I certainly hope Obama will not pursue the path of militarism, and his presidency will be all the more successful if he doesn't. That's a theme I take up in an op-ed in today's Financial Review.