I know, I know. If I were being more careful I could have combined some of this. But Jonah Goldberg has a post at National Review that pretty much says what I didn’t like about President Obama’s inaugural address. (There was plenty to like, such as the parallels with Bush’s second inaugural– see previous post– and the fact that Obama is indeed a great orator.)
There were some awfully clunky clichés in there. For example, here’s the second paragraph:
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
Gathering clouds and raging storms? Really? How did that survive the first draft? …
Also, if you’re going to use clichéd language you should at least make it track logically. According to this imagery, times of peace and times of prosperity have not coincided, unless of course rising tides can be still at the same time.
I think this is the main weakness of Obama’s speeches: he’s always trying so hard to sound stately and magnificient and grand that sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Of course, sometimes it works really, really well. Other times it leaves me feeling kind of like this: