Every time you read that second inaugural, you start getting intimidated...Okay, so in his own terms, how does Obama frame the challenge?
And so, I think that the main task for me in an inauguration speech, and I think this is true for my presidency generally, is to try to capture as best I can the moment that we are in...Wait...what moment is it 'that we are in'? March 4, 1865:
...let us strive on to finish the work that we are in...As Obama elaborates, it's clear that the moment that he's in -- deep -- is that damned speech...
I mean, I think that when you have a successful presidential speech of any sort, it's because that president is able to say -- is able to put their finger on here's the moment we're in. This is the crossroad that we're at. And then to project confidence that if we take the right measures that we can once again be that country, that beacon for the world.Something like this?
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.Of course, the optimism that became de rigeur for presidents along the way was not exactly Lincoln's style. I doubt Obama will be wondering aloud on Jan. 20 whether it's God will that all the wealth piled up by the credit card shall be sunk before we pull ourselves out of the financial mess "that we are in."