Obama’s Inaugural Address Wins Approval, Mostly

President Obama (no longer President-elect Obama — so long, extra keystrokes!) faced some tough comparisons heading into his inaugural address, which he’d been working on for two months, apparently. It was to be measured not only against inaugural addresses like those of JFK, FDR, and Lincoln, but also against his own already-classic orations. In other words, unless his speech made the nearby statues weep, it just wouldn’t impress some people. And, as it turns out, not everyone was impressed. But for most people, Obama’s message, in addition to his usual poetic language, seems to have resonated especially well.

• Megan McArdle was “disappointed by the beginning of his speech” but thought the second half was “beautiful.” [Atlantic]

• Michael Crowley calls it “strong, uplifting, appropriate for the moment, good if not wholly breathtaking,” though it was kind of tough on Bush, who had to “sit and listen to Obama’s account of a nation that needs to be reclaimed and restored.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Jonathan Cohn was most struck by “the direct rebuke of former President Bush’s foreign policy,” in particular, the passage “about the need to live by the rule of law, even in matters of national security.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Alan Wolfe says Obama’s “emphasis on duty and responsibility” was “so loud” that they drowned out his “liberal themes of hope and purpose.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Jay Nordlinger admires Obama’s “brevity” but doesn’t think the speech was either particularly bad or good. [Corner/National Review]

• Karen Tumulty calls it “the most somber inauguration address I can remember.” As in Chicago on Election Day, “Obama was once again the pull of gravity on the giddiness around him.” [Time]

• Steve Benen says it was “a dense and powerful speech, and a more forceful rejection of the status quo than I’d expected.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Ramesh Ponnuru writes that despite some “good passages,” the speech was “pedestrian, and at times petty in its many shots at Bush.” [Corner/National Review]

• Michael Knox Beran calls it “[a] home run, very different in its emphases from The Audacity of Hope; much graver, more sober, and (in a good way) backward-looking.” [Corner/National Review]

• Jeff Shesol, a speechwriter for President Clinton, weighs in: “It may not be the most inspirational speech he has ever given, but it’s surely the most purposeful. It was a display of strength (his) and a summoning of strength (ours).” [Room for Debate/NYT]

• Abe Greenwald contends that Obama’s “inaugural speech showed no evidence that he’s willing to abandon” his reliance “on the imprecise rhetoric of the professional campaigner.” [Contentions/Commentary]

• Adam Serwer thinks the speech today “sought to provide a vision of our adulthood; an attitude that rejects the impulsiveness, painted as toughness, of the Bush years.” [American Prospect]

• Taegan Goddard calls it “an extraordinary speech.” [Political Wire]

• Ta-Nehisi Coates has “heard too many Obama speeches” and finds himself “unmoved.” [Atlantic]

• Gabriel Winant found the speech “lofty in its language, but its subject was, in some sense, as earthy as it gets.” The crux of the message was that “the story of American freedom is social history — the stuff of ordinary people’s lives.” [War Room/Salon]

Obama’s Inaugural Address Wins Approval, Mostly