A Closer Look at Obama's Inaugural Address

Obama's inaugural speech was a departure from his upbeat campaign rallies. One local political expert tells us more about what the speech says about our new president and our difficult times.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath," President Obama said in his inaugural address. Certain lines have stayed with us from our past presidents' inaugural speeches.

From John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
From Franklin D. Roosevelt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

So what will we remember from President Obama's inaugural address?

"I was struck by the fact that there wasn't a tag line, there wasn't a buzz phrase," says Rockford College Political Science Professor Bob Evans. "It struck me that there were some themes and there was a tone set that was very distinctive."

That tone was vastly different from the one Obama delivered on the campaign trail.

"It was a speech that looked like a man who knew he had just become president," says Evans.

And Obama knows there are great challenges ahead. He said, "That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war... Our economy is badly weakened."

Professor Evans says the president expressed a good mix of diplomacy for our friends and warning to our enemies, to reassure the American people he is here to protect us.

Evans also says Obama used a tactic familiar to presidents entering office in troubled times: "Franklin Roosevelt did it during the great depression, President Reagan did it in the 1980s: The notion that we are a good people who have drifted away from the right path and we need to return to that."

Professor Evans believes Obama deliberately steered clear of speaking in soundbites because he wanted to express that our nations' challenges cannot be tackled easily and he didn't even want to speak about them simplistically.

Evans adds that Obama was careful not to make any jabs at the outgoing president. He says it's remarkable how gracious the Obamas and Bushes have been toward each other.

Evans adds there's a lot of pressure on presidents to make great progress in their first 100 days in office, but we should not expect Mr. Obama to move too quickly.

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