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Inaugural Address: Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

4:55 PM, Jan 21, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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The speech has been subjected to instant analysis and placed in proper historical context by, among others, Andrea Mitchell who thought it recalled Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" masterpiece.  Others saw it as a call to arms for the progressive agenda.  And so forth.

Barack Obama delivers inaugural address 1-20-09 090120-A-8725H-285

Worth remembering is the fact that it was just a speech and no matter how stirring the cadences – if, indeed, you found them stirring – it will be forgotten at best and mocked at worst if the second term does not deliver.  Churchill's speeches are remembered and quoted because the Brits (with, eventually, a little help from their friends) were winners.  "Fight them on the beache” would have been tossed in the dustbin of history if the Germans had managed to get across the Channel and occupied the British Isles.  "So much been owed by so many to so few," would not still resonate if the Luftwaffe had prevailed.

Lincoln's “Malice toward none; charity toward all” speech would be historical detritus if the Union had not won the war.

John F. Kennedy's “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe…” might have been a burden, in fact, to his legacy if he had lived and taken the country deeper into the Vietnam quagmire.

The president has given his speech and exhorted us to strive together to achieve this and that, to include doing something about climate change.  We shall see if he, and the political class to which he belongs, can deliver.  This is his second try and his first attempt included this:

Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.  Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered.  Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many ... and

... those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits.

The president and Washington claim to have the answers for ... well, just about everything.  Just now we have more people on food stamps than ever, more people collecting disability payments than ever, fewer people in the work force than in 2007, more debt than ever ... and so on.

The speech gives the talking heads something to talk about and, so far, not much more than that.  But, then, they have to eat, too.

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