Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I never, ever watch Fox News, but the New York Times was kind enough to do it for me, and they seem to have nailed Obama's address. It's unfortunate that only a rabidly partisan network was willing to give an honest assessment of what was a decidedly mediocre effort.

Reviews from Fox | 1:26 p.m.
On Fox News, President Obama garnered rave reviews for his “marvelously eloquent” delivery of the inaugural address. [Tray: I wasn't even impressed by that. The delivery was remarkably one-note, and the note wasn't even that good, this toned-down version of his inspirational uplift cadence. It's like he couldn't do what he really does best, exort and shout and sermonize, because of the dignity of the occasion, so failing that he was left with this pallid, humdrum imitation of himself.] On its content, however, opinion was less enthusiastic.

Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, said: “The surprising thing about this speech, however, was that in this extraordinary moment, the speech was actually quite ordinary from a literary perspective. There were too many ‘raging storms’ and ‘gathering clouds’ and other things that any writer would consider cliché. [In fairness, Gerson gave Bush a lot of cliches and needlessly flowery phrases too.] And I don’t understand given Obama’s literary ear in so many past speeches how some of these things got through into an inaugural address. I think it’s a mystery.”

Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor, agreed. “I have to say I do agree with you,” he said. “I kept looking for the line that I thought was going to be engraved in granite, and other than ‘The price and the promise of citizenship,’ and I’m not sure how immortal that line is, I found precious little in here that I thought – you know, there was not an ‘Ask not…’ moment or ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”

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