Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Speech

I didn't see the speech live, but watched it late last night.

I'd heard George Hook briefly say he was disappointed about an hour after President Obama had finished speaking. After I'd watched the speech I knew what he was talking about, although I wasn't disappointed.

I was surprised by the speech, but not disappointed. I was expecting an artistic speech full of great optimistic rhetorical flourishes. There was very little of that. The new President was so downbeat it was almost like the burden of the office was already taking its toll.

I understand why George Hook was disappointed. He wasn't just there for the history of the moment, but to be lifted, energized, inspired. He seems to have got none of that and, I thought, based on the reactions, that the crowd was sort of flat after the initial burst of excitement. Maybe it was the cold.

I was sort of heartened, as has happened a few times since Election Day. I liked the pragmatic acknowledgment of the contribution of entrepreneurs and business owners. I had the sense that the focus of his new regulatory and legislative programs will be on making the bankers behave. I didn't get the sense that there was a lot of new anti-business legislation on the way (at least not from the Executive Branch). And, even though I didn't believe him, I liked the bit about how government programs that don't work will be ended.

After the speech I heard some analyst say that he thought the reference to the unclenched fist was directed to Ahmadinejad. Maybe it was, but I was thinking of Mugabe & Castro when I heard those words. Especially Castro.

I thought the Valley Forge reference fell completely flat, maybe because too many of those on the Mall didn't know their country's history. I don't know, but I liked the tip of the cap to the Indispenable Man.

I'm not sure why he felt the need for the somber tone, but it didn't bother me.

{Now I want to read others' reactions.}