Did you see the inauguration yesterday of America’s 44th president? What a spectacle! The crowds, the pomp… Aretha Franklin’s hat. It stuck me as being part wedding (Michelle Obama’s mother-of-the – bride outfit set that train of thought going, plus the endless shaking of guest’s hands the couple endures before getting to the high table) part pop concert (the fans below) and part church service (the numerous prayers and references to God and the Bible). Overall it was as impressive as it should have been and needed to be.
The speech was the thing we were all waiting for. I must admit, after poor Obama fluffed the oath, I worried for him. If he’s messed that up, what’s he going to be like in his much longer oration? I should have had more faith. Here is a leader with a clear, smooth voice; easy to listen to, easy to understand. He’s up there among the gifted and articulate orators of our time. But the pressure was on. Would he come out with a soundbite, like JFK had, the TV coverage kept wondering. Would there be an equivalent to the line: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country’ ? In today’s Times, Gerard Baker reckons there wasn’t. ‘The speech that failed to fly’ he called it. I disagree. True, the overall speech wasn’t particularly poetic but Obama said what he had to say. Like Earl Spencer during Diana’s eulogy, it was hard hitting and unapologetic. It reflected the times in which he lives which is why I particularly liked two phrases. ‘the time has come to… choose our better history’ and (in reference to the USAs many enemies) ‘...we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.’
The time has come to choose our better history. Brilliant. Come on then guys, let’s do it, together.
Good luck President Barack Obama. Your going to need it.