Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Any thoughts on Obama’s inaugural speech?

I must say I thought it was a mediocre speech, and not very well delivered.

Oh well. We already know Barack Obama can deliver a good speech. Maybe he will do better at the next inauguration.

1:34 p.m. (Pacific Time): The ceremonial stuff didn’t really move me. But watching President Obama and the First Lady walk the parade route... that’s cool as shit!


Dollar Bill said...

A lot of firsts going on though.

I'm sure that's the first time a boombox has been mentioned by a poet at a event like this and the old Rev.,gettin' super bad at the end and flippin' the script on the old brown bag party lines.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I hadn't heard that "red man can get ahead, man" line before.

Susie said...

Loved the old Rev - he's my new senior crush.

I liked the speech, I would have been unnerved if he'd gotten up there and waxed rhapsodic and inspirational.

After 8 years of a president that made speeches pretending that things weren't going completely off the rails I found his speech to be reassuring.

Also, it felt like he had a real awareness that he was talking to the whole world and not just this country.

Got a call from Israel the minute that it was over, from a friend who said that it felt like the whole country was glued to their TV sets watching. The response was positive.

Satyrblade said...

I'm just glad to finally have a president who can speak and act like an intelligent human being... and a leader... and a great man.

I teared up during his speech, and I was far from alone. That in no way rates as "mediocire" in my book. He's done better before now, but no other president within my lifetime has. And I, for one, am glad to have him officially on the job at last. Whatever happens from now on, history has been made.

café paris said...

Big day for america, I hope Obama will change the world !

Francisco said...

Yeah, it needed Oomph. Obama flubbing the Oath wasn't cool either. decent speech, not good, not great. But we now need action, not speeches.

JD Rhoades said...

Francisco: Obama didn't flub the oath. Roberts did.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ As for the oath, the Chief Justice fucked him up. The line is supposed to be "to faithfully execute." Roberts put that "faithfully" in the wrong place... forcing Obama to decide whether to recite the line properly or to repeat Roberts's mistake.

Too bad it didn't go perfect. Those are things that can ruin a perfect day.

Dougfp said...

Reverend Lowery was I believe, recasting the lyrics of a Big Bill Broonzy tune called "Black, Brown, and White"...changing the line, "if you're black, get back" to reflect the occasion of Obama's inauguration.

Anonymous said...

I thought the speech did what it needed to do. I thought it was "good" but not "awesome"..whatever that means. I mean, I sat through the damn thing didn't I? :)

The folks in the office who came down to watch it seemed to think it was pretty good.

The oath thing was really annoying. Way to go chief justice.

Geneva Girl said...

It was okay, but short is always good. He just was checking the box: Speech done. Now let's get to work!

I'm lovin' the old Rev. Did they really have to go that far back to get a non-controversial black preacher?

Anonymous said...

And we have our first MBM of the new era:

--bad dad

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Splendid, bad dad. Absolutely splendid. Thanks for passing that along.

Undercover Black Man said...

Let me share the words of my favorite far-right blogger, Lawrence Auster, on today's effed-up adminstering of the Oath of Office:

"While I’ve avoided the inaugural event entirely, a friend just played for me over the phone Chief Justice Roberts’s staggering, mind-blowing screw-up of the presidential oath.

"I’ve never heard anything so bad, so embarrassing. What a thing to do to a new president, at the historic moment of his swearing in! I said to my friend, 'Roberts should go shoot himself.' I don’t literally mean it, of course, but that was my reaction."

Roberts owes President Obama a steak dinner, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

The link got truncated, sorry.

Cut and paste these two together...


PHOLEO! The margarine with extra chlorophyll for fresh breath!

--bad dad

Matt and Vince Spence said...

Undercover Black Man said...
Roberts owes President Obama a steak dinner, at the very least.
I agree. Plus, he should have only feed him 6-8 words at a time. He strung out almost a full sentence - imagine being on the altar and the priest making you repeat the entire vow verbatim by memory.

Barack did a fabulous job.

I also enjoyed hearing the 'Lord's Prayer'. If everybody concentrated on only the first two words of this prayer, a lot of agony would have been spared over the centuries...

Francisco said...

OHHH, OK, I get it. My bad. First presidential order: To send Chief Roberts to Guantanamo, before the 'going out of bidness' sale start

Antonio said...

I thought it was a great speech, not his best, but he's set the bar impossibly high.

Kellybelle said...

He's so cool. I loved his speech, it seemed like he was reminding people that he has a lot of work to do.

Undercover Black Man said...

Now... I don't wanna start no shit, but...

Any thoughts on the First Lady's ball gown?

What she really needed to set it off properly was a wrist corsage.

NunaOni said...

I liked it a lot. I didn't tear up tho. Let's talk about that crappy poem lol. One of my colleagues said that she should have made that a haiku, I agree.

dez said...

^Oh, leave her alone. She'll find her fashion way, just you wait :-) At least she wasn't wearing...whatever it was that was on top of Aretha's head.

I liked the speech, and I loved the old Rev.'s, too.

dez said...

Oops, mine was directed at UBM's last comment, not yours, NunaOni.

I thought the poem was okay, but delivered poorly. I'm sure the prof was pretty nervous.

GLASHI - What it sounds like when you're ordering for one more for the road.

S.O.L. said...

I was there and I agree with Antonio. It wasn't his best speech ever (for me it was the one he gave on Election Night) but it was up to the moment. It was so weird standing in such an incredibly massive sea of people and it was so quiet, you could hear your own heart beating.

His voice was clear and strong and the crowd hung on every word -- in a way you hardly ever see anymore. After he was sworn in, there was a strange silence, everyone was in shock or something. Then this guy next to me hugged me. A total stranger. Unreal. Beautiful. Crazy.

I was rocked by the people -- it was at once like a Grateful Dead concert and yet the gravitas of the moment was not lost on a soul. I'm pretty knocked over by the experience. Obviously.

Oh, and thanks for the shout out, UBM.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Hearing you describe it, S.O.L. ... for the first time I wish I'd been there.

SDG said...

He's set the bar really high hasn't he? I thought the speech did what is was supposed to do, combine idealism and pragmatism.

He told the truth about the state of the nation and our connection to the world.

What matters is what he does, not what he says. Now when his legislation stinks, I'll be concerned. Until such time, nice speech.

Anonymous said...

"I must say I thought it was a mediocre speech, and not very well delivered."

You can't be serious.

Obama is a brilliant orator.

Perhaps his inaugural speech is not going to go down in history as one of the greatest speeches ever. But don't forget that people all over the world were listening. Many (perhaps most) of his listeners don't have a very good command of the English language. I think that Obama was perfectly aware of that fact and that's why he opted for certain plainness.

In my opinion he managed to be plain and at the same time quite eloquent. And I thought his delivery was impeccable.

Admittedly, this was not Obama's best speech and not his best delivery but it was very well judged and just right for the occasion.


Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks for commenting, Anna. We have a difference of opinion. I'll look back on the speech in a few days, separated from the emotions of Inauguration Day, and see if I feel any differently about it.

But I'll say right now, "plain" language doesn't have to be inelegant. And stuff like saying "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off" -- lyrics from an old Jerome Kern song from the '30s -- were awkward in the context of such a serious address.

It's been reported that Obama indeed had a heavy hand in writing this speech. And I begin to wonder about why no one had the courage to tell him that lines like that were lousy.

Anonymous said...

"And stuff like saying "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off" -- lyrics from an old Jerome Kern song from the '30s -- were awkward in the context of such a serious address."

OK, you're a man of taste so I have no doubt you're right.

Thing is, I'm not American and all this stuff passed by me totally unnoticed.

This quote (about picking oneself up) is not familiar to me and I have absolutely no idea who Jerome Kern is. Or was.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should add that I took all Obama's words at their face value. Simplistically perhaps.

If he was admonishing us to "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off" -- well, I really have no argument against that.


Undercover Black Man said...

^ You're not American, Anna? May I inquire as to your nationality?

Anonymous said...



Undercover Black Man said...

^ Cool!

Michael Fisher said...

Hey Vince. Back from being Black? How was it?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ He liked the 30 percent increase in penis size. Didn't like the 30 percent decrease in net worth.

Coquinegra said...

well, Obama did say he wouldn't have nominated Roberts to the SCOTUS...he just was paying PRESIDENT Obama back. I can live with that

eclectique916 said...

I was very unhappy with Roberts. I don't care if this is your first administration of the oath. This is stuff we know in high school. Folks have been memorizing this for over a month. Get an index card if you can't remember your lines.

Aretha singing or hat? I saw hat. Listened to music direction over singing. The orchestra was on target.

Speech - well, I was looking for the plan: Here's what's happenin', here's what got screwed up in the last 8 years, here's what's expected. In other words, I'm okay with marching orders.

See Ethelbert Miller's commentary on the poem (and the speech) at his blogspot http://eethelbertmiller1.blogspot.com/.

Inaugural Gown. Not my style. Too bridal. But the fashion cue from MO is to dare to be different or take a fashion risk. She has no fear of standing out. Neither do I. I wore a hot red satin gown made of a stretch fabric. LA designer.

"Red man, get ahead, man" was new to me, but not to my mom. Or was she bluffing.

portiapm said...

Weighing in late because yesterday I was still recovering from all the festivities, but had to add a couple of thoughts.

I thought the speech was great. And I did cry. Actually, I cried through most of the ceremony.

The thing about our new President is that so many people project their hopes and dreams and expectations onto him. What would have been hailed as a speech beyond measure for ANYONE else, is "mediocre"? UBM, I adore you, but I really must challenge that assessment.

And, yes, of course you're entitled to your opinion, even when it is woefully wrong. Ha!

I do believe that some of us set an impossibly high standard for him, and then seem to drink deeply from the haterade bottle if he doesn't meet whatever impossible standard set. It seems a little counterintuitive.

This man defied every challenge and obstacle and doubt and did what EVERYONE said could not be done. He got elected. He moved millions of people. He got a couple million of those people to show up on a bitterly cold day and wait for hours outside, knowing that the closest they would get to him would be seeing his image on a Jumbotron.

His ability to do that didn't simply happen because he gave some good speeches that thrilled everybody, and then they all trooped out to the Mall to hear another good speech. I'm begging us all not to make this about our being "entertained".

And, just a final thought--my understanding from several articles I've read about his speeches, and his adorable, impossibly young chief speechwriter, is that he has a heavy hand in writing ALL his speeches. It sounds as if it's a very collaborative process.

Anonymous said...

This morning I read this in the Guardian:


I thoroughly agree with this journalist. I experienced Obama's speech the same way he did.

A very canny speech in my opinion.


S.O.L. said...

UBM, I thought you'd like to see George Packer's take on the speech. The New Yorker corespondent and author "The Assassin's Gate," (a great book on the Iraq War), posted this on his New Yorker blog:

Let Us Now Set Aside Childish Things

There were echoes of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, but President Obama uttered no words today that will be quoted in a hundred years. He has never been a real stem-winder or a coiner of unforgettable phrases; what he’s always been is a great explainer, who pays the rest of us the highest compliment—the appeal to reason. Today he explained why Americans need to grow up, and the tone and vision of his speech—sober, realistic, clear-minded, undaunted—were absolutely equal to the occasion and the times, down to his requisite scriptural passage: “The time has come to set aside childish things.” (This nonbeliever was also pleased to be included, for once, in the roll call of faiths—especially after Rick Warren’s utterly sectarian invocation.)

The speech was, among other things, and in spite of the gracious gesture at its opening, a devastating repudiation of ex-President Bush, who seemed to be shrinking physically as well as historically whenever the camera found him, until, by the end, his unimportance was almost bewildering. Now he is gone.

The rest of the world was listening, too, and Obama saved his most eloquent words for them: “Because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.” He also set for his goals in America’s two ongoing wars a responsible withdrawal from Iraq and a “hard-earned peace” in Afghanistan—not victory. Here, too, Obama showed that he won’t allow tempting rhetoric to undermine what’s possible, what’s real, which is part of his call to a “new era of responsibility.” But no lines were more passionately delivered by this restrained and conciliatory man than these: “We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

He delivered something better than rhetorical excitement—he spoke the truth, which makes its own history and carries its own poetry. As for the poet who had the impossible job of immediately following the new President, I’ll leave it to you to judge.

The most reassuring thought on this Inauguration Day is that we Americans always get the President we deserve.