Obama's Inaugural Address: Don't Expect Specifics

He'll emphasize 'founding values,' get to agenda in State of the Union

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 21, 2013 7:20 AM CST | Updated Jan 21, 2013 7:57 AM CST

(Newser) – President Obama will take to the mic at noon today to share his vision for the next four years with the country, and while guns, immigration, and other big issues loom, those tuning in should expect generalities rather than details. The AP spoke with aides who say there's no new policy in the speech, which is par for the course, a former speechwriter tells CBS. "An inaugural is a specific kind of speech. It's not a stump speech. It's not a partisan speech. It's not a policy speech." The result is akin to a "Hallmark card," quips a historian. "Filled with sentimental, feel-good, uplifting, patriotic language."

David Plouffe said yesterday on CNN that Obama's "detailed agenda and blueprint" will come in his Feb. 12 State of the Union address. "We view these speeches as a package," said Plouffe, per Politico. The words he and other insiders are bandying about? "It’s a hopeful speech," Valerie Jarrett told Real Clear Politics, one that emphasizes "those founding values and principles that have always guided our country so well."

  • The other big story line of the speech: It's obviously Obama's second such address, and as author Ronald C. White Jr. writes for the New York Times, "second inaugurals have not fared well in American history." He argues that the only exception to the rule was Abraham Lincoln's March 5, 1865 speech ("With malice toward none, with charity for all..."), which succeeded because he broke three second-inaugural commonalities. He kept it to a slim 701 words (everyone from Jefferson to Clinton to George W. spoke longer during their second go-round); used "I" only once; and wasn't predictable (he didn't address expected topics like how the Confederacy should be treated post-defeat).
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This Jan. 20, 2009 file photo shows President Barack Obama delivering his inaugural address on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
The sun rises behind the Capitol Dome early before the swearing-in of President Obama at the US Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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