By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The 44th president of the United States

It’s going to take a while for President Obama’s inaugural address to sink in. My first impression: good, but not great. A surprisingly tough tone, with a welcome emphasis on individual responsibility. A wonderful day for the country and the world.

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29 Comments

  1. Doug Shugarts

    I agree with your opinion of the speech. I heard no grand, overarching theme, but I think that a no-nonsense, pragmatic message seems appropriate for our time and our President.Did you notice that when Obama entered the grandstand, the announcer used only Obama’s middle initial (“Barack H. Obama”), not his full middle name? Obama and Roberts used the President’s full name, of course, but I wondered if the earlier introduction was an error.Also, check out the new Whitehouse website complete with its own blog.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Doug: That’s where I got the photo!

  3. Michael Corcoran

    This is a huge occasion and I am very pleased someone much closer to my ideology is in office. And I can’t help but feel like I am ruining everybody’s good mood when I say this but …Is all of this jubilation from the media so healthy?I mean the media — on virtually every channel — has spent days telling us about this historic moment, and has ignored so many important geopolitical and economic issues facing the world (I suppose they also did this for two years during the election, but still …) I know this is a moment to celebrate — Bush out, a new person (and an African-American at that) is in. But I really hope citizens and journalists start to more soberly assess Obama’s policy positions and stop the coronation. I am beginning to think that young children must be watching this and assuming Obama is some kind of God.That can’t be good.

  4. Michael Pahre

    My first impression of the speech was better than yours, although not as good as the 2nd Lincoln inaugural or JFK’s.I think that the take-away line that will be quoted for years to come was the first sentence in his dagger through the heart of the Bush presidency post-9/11:”As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

  5. Ani

    I am relieved, thrilled, optimistic, the whole nine yards. My younger son’s school took a field trip to a theater to watch the thing on a big screen. He seemed pretty excited (for a teenager) about the whole thing — don’t know how much of that is about the bi-racial issue. My reaction to Obama’s speech, however, was to hear the “speechiness” of an address of Obama’s, for the first time — when I’ve listened to Obama speak before, I heard only what he was saying, even when I was aware of the oratory. This time around, I started thinking that, now, for better or for worse, you (Obama) have the opportunity to act, and so when we hear your ensuing speeches, either they will sound the more impressive for being backed by actions, or they will begin to sound hollow.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Michael P.: I want to see it again — and I will, at our church’s Inauguration Ball tonight. Sometimes it takes a while for Obama’s speeches to sink in with me. For all his skill as an orator, he’s rather old-fashioned, speaking to the crowd rather than the television cameras, and I’m still not quite used to that. Compared to Clinton and Reagan, Obama is actually something of a throwback.

  7. Bill H.

    I thought it was a great speech and a great day for this country. We need all the hope we can get these days.

  8. O-FISH-L

    While I wish him well, I felt sorry for President Obama when his supporters began booing and mocking outgoing President George W. Bush as if they were drunks at a sporting event. Real class, I’ll tell you and quite the way to tarnish an otherwise proud moment for the Democrats. Meanwhile, Michael Corcoran is the front-runner for post of the year on this blog. The unbridled pro-Obama euphoria in the media is something to behold, but when errors and controversies inevitably occur, will any reporter be willing to be the skunk at the garden party or will tanked reporters still be partying long after last call? Today and tomorrow’s editions of most newspapers will be keepsakes not just because of reportage on the first black president, but because it may well be the last inauguration in print.

  9. Esther

    What struck me was his youth – and my age. For the first time in my life I’m older than the president of the United States. A sobering thought! The speech seemed more pragmatic than soaring to me. Lots of hard work but we’ve been in tough situations before.

  10. Kristin

    Listen to it again. The oratory, the throwbackiness (in this case I think it’s a good thing) even, gave me and my fellow listeners goose bumps. I watched at the bar of a local restaurant and everyone was rapt. There were tears at some points, clapping at others. If we hadn’t been so white, there might have been more than a few “Amens!”. Come on, that was a good speech. Oh, and as for the theme, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution seemed to run through the whole thing.

  11. O-FISH-L

    While I disagree with them on just about everything politically, please join me in praying for Democrat Sens. Bob Byrd and Ted Kennedy, both of whom apparently collapsed after the ceremony. While there is a punchline somewhere on lifelong Democrat and former KKK Exalted Cyclops Byrd collapsing at the appearance of the first black President, I won’t parrot the haters who earlier in the day embarrassed themselves on Bush’s departure.

  12. Rob

    O-Fish, you basically did just parrot the haters with your comment on Byrd.

  13. zadig

    I agree with Michael P. that the phrase he quotes was both memorable/quotable and aimed straight at the outgoing administration. It was beautiful, and an admirable stance on the matter.Fish, you’re sick to trot out tired old right-wing attacks on a man who just collapsed due to ill health, your disingenuous attempts to deflect criticism notwithstanding. And I didn’t hear any Obama supporters booing Bush on the way out, unlike those McCain supporters who booed every mention of Obama at McCain’s concession speech. So don’t make crap up.

  14. Bill Baar

    A friend who is a staffer on the Hill sent me a picture a few days ago of Washington crossing the Deleware with something along the lines of Americans will attack you Christmas day and kill you as you sleep as a caption. Curious Obama would have chosen Washington’s words from that moment to repeat today. Not a problem for me. I hope OBL listening and understands the history.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    I also did not hear any booing of George W. Bush or anyone else, but sound on television can be tricky. Will be looking for news accounts.

  16. zadig

    I’m listening to Hannity yukking it up with Ann Coulter right now and they’ve been going on about how Bush was booed. So between O-Fish and that, it looks as if “nasty mean old libruls booed Dear Leader Bush” is the wingnut meme of the day.

  17. O-FISH-L

    Zadig, nice try but there’s no meme that I’m following. In fact, as a news junkie and historian, I would have loved to watch the historic moment live on TV but couldn’t stomach the pre and post event hype. I’m accepting as fact the news reports on the mocking of Bush. If those reports are wrong, I will be the first to apologize. I’ve yet to see or hear anything from Hannity or Coulter today.I repeat, I wish President Obama well. It’s just that the unrestrained hatred of Bush, manifested here by the blogmaster as recently as Friday, is always misplaced, but no more so than at a historic event such as this. If Obama is half the guy I think he is, he is aware that he’ll be judged by the company he keeps and will continue to cleverly keep the ultra-libs guessing. The secret meetings with McCain are encouraging.

  18. zadig

    Never mind, Fish. I apologize myself. I have heard from a source that I consider reliable (the Rude Pundit to be precise) that booing did occur. I don’t believe such animosity is misplaced, as you assert, because of the horrible and most likely criminal behavior of the Bush administration over the past 8 years, but I should not have accused you of making crap up. My apologies again.

  19. O-FISH-L

    Thanks Zadig. No apology necessary. I consider this to be all in fun.

  20. Dan Kennedy

    Are we still wondering if anyone booed Bush? I just watched “The NewsHour,” which had footage of some booing. Didn’t seem like many people, but it could have been scattered across the entire mall.Doesn’t seem like a big deal. I still remember when Ed King got introduced at a Celtics game (a Bruins game?) and got booed before he even became governor.

  21. mike_b1

    Am I reading this right? O-Fish is complaining about Americans invoking their right to free speech?

  22. Prospecticus

    I look forward to a time when religious references are only in fleeting mention in the ceremonies. The US could learn something from the maturity of Europe in this regard. $$ Are you still boorish if good manners prevented you from booing, but you really wanted to?

  23. Robin Edgar

    “A surprisingly tough tone, with a welcome emphasis on individual responsibility.”Yes, I liked and plagU*Urized this part -“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand *if* you are willing to unclench your fist.”

  24. rozzie02131

    Did anyone else see the Globe’s “Inauguration Extra?” I was expecting an old-fashioned extra edition, with a replated front page and maybe a few new pages inside, surrounded by today’s full paper. Instead, the Globe published a skinny stand-alone broadsheet, maybe 8 pages total, all about the inauguration and nothing else. And it cost $2 – bringing some scary thoughts about the future of break-even journalism.There was a huge stack of unsold copies at South Station late tonight. It seems the Globe overreached by a lot in attempting to cash in on Obama souvenir mania.

  25. O-FISH-L

    Mike_b1, your reading comprehension is a little off, sir. I haven’t and would never complain about anyone exercising his right to free speech. I merely observed the lack of class and decorum by those who booed the outgoing President and sang Steam’s “Nah, Nah, Say Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye” during such a solemn event. It’s a shame that Obama is vicariously liable for that type of conduct, because these were his guests. What little I’ve been able to find out about Obama has me guessing that he’s probably embarrassed by such juvenile behavior. Obama probably wishes he had taught these amateurs the words of former Cleveland Browns head coach Paul Brown, “Act like you’ve been there before.”

  26. O'Reilly

    I heard the “boo-ing” but it was more like na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey-hey, goodbye. It was when he walked out to be seated and I was embarrassed for the people who did it. As my father used to say “Act like you’ve been somewhere.” Here’s speech. If you want Dan, you can embed it in this post or another. Obama Inaug. Speech Part 1 Obama Inaug. Speech Part 2

  27. mike_b1

    Hmmm, what you call “class and decorum” sounds like free speech to me. And the words of a sore loser.

  28. lovable liberal

    I don’t hate Duhbya and Darth. I just think they both belong in prison.

  29. Nial Liszt

    **Doesn’t seem like a big deal. I still remember when Ed King got introduced at a Celtics game (a Bruins game?) and got booed before he even became governor.**You had to go back to Ed King to find a suitable booee? What about the time that the crowd got on Sam Adams at that skittles match? A more recent and visible example was Kerry getting booed at Fenway in 2004. Politicians get booed at games all the time, but the expected behavior at a game should be quite different from a presidential inauguration.

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