I thought it was kind of flat. When did Obama decide to abandon the “Yes We Can” style of speaking? Not that I expected him to use that particular phrase, but I expected to be inspired. And I wasn’t. Take the beginning of the speech for example. We’ve just witnessed the entrance of a new cabinet (wow, it’s Democrats), Supreme Court Justices (wow, there’s Justice Ginsberg recovering from cancer surgery, a new president—and so forth. Applause all around. The room is buzzing. The nation is uncertain, concerned about the future. Surely the new president is going to give us a grand vision of country, put our current woes in historic context, personalize the trials we will face, and the grand sense of accomplishment when we triumph over adversity!!
Instead, in the first minutes of the speech (literally) He launches immediately into telling us how bad things are. Here are the first words:
I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.
But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:
We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
The buzz is gone.
I was expecting him to tell a great story, make me feel confident and ready to “rebuild and recover”. Instead he just asserted that that’s how it would be. The biggest applause lines seemed to be for some specific program proposals (ending agriculture subsidies!! honest budgeting!!!). Not what I expected and pretty much forgettable for most people, I suspect.
It seems very strange to me that the guy who inspired everyone on the campaign trail has abandoned that style of speaking as president.