Noonan: A Solid, Sober Beginning

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2009 10:06 AM CST
President Barack Obama, lower center, waves as he gives his inaugural address at the US Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama’s first speech as president was not “a joyous audacious document, not a call to arms,” writes Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, “but a reasoned statement by a Young Sobersides.” That’s not a criticism: Moderate and moderated, Obama’s address said exactly what it needed to. It was not “especially moving or rousing,” but “it was worthy, had weight, and was adult.”

It was a dense speech, mixing conservative and liberal rhetoric and full of nuance. Witness, for example, his reference to the fighters of “Gettysburg, Normandy, and Khe Sanh,” an unselfconscious validation of Vietnam by a post-boomer president. It didn’t have a quality sound bite, but “this is not all bad,” Noonan writes. “When a speech is so calm and cool that you have to read it to absorb it fully, the speech just may get read.”