What Obama Must Do in His Inaugural Address

As daughter Malia puts it, 'better be good'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2009 9:59 AM CST
President-elect Barack Obama speaks at the Lincoln Memorial during an inaugural concert in Washington on Sunday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama has a reputation as a great orator, so most are expecting a soaring and eloquent inaugural address today. But Obama’s speech can’t just be pretty, writes Tom Brune in Newsday. “He has work to do.” Obama must:

  • Define the moment: Specifically, define it as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
  • Give hope (but not too much): Obama must restore confidence in the economy, but without raising unrealistic expectations.

  • Reassure the world: The speech should send a message to an already excited world that US foreign policy is changing, but that Obama still stands for America’s interests.
  • Reach out to the right: Every inaugural address aims to mend fences with the election’s losers. Obama’s already made gestures on this front, but he’s got to say the words.
  • Offer a memorable phrase: Inaugurals endure on the strength of their sound bites. Think, “ask not what your country can do for you.”