David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
The Greatest Inaugural Speech, IMO

We're on the cusp of a presidential inauguration. Heaven only knows how many speech writers are gathered in solemn (possibly desperate) conclave trying to get President Bush's second inaugural address just right.

To my mind, the best such effort to date was also one of the shortest: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. It's a masterpiece of American literature; I used to make my freshman writing students at Cornell read it.

I'll bet that if you read it before President Bush's speech, you will see in the latter some evidence that he/they were trying to duplicate the force and beauty of the former. I very much doubt he/they will fully succeed; happy as I am about the outcome of November's election, I don't see in the incumbent the oratorical skill or the depth of vision I fancy I see in our sixteenth President.

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