Amid Clichés, Speech Showed True Insight

New president's speech emphasized how a bright future comes from old traditions
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Jan 21, 2009 9:27 AM CST
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are seen at the Eastern Inaugural Ball in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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(Newser) – A conservative might have expected President Obama’s inaugural address to feature soaring language masking hackneyed ideas. Funny thing, writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: It was just the opposite. "It is simply mysterious how such tired language could sound appropriate to the ear of Obama the writer,” but the speech’s substance “shows deep understanding of America, which remains moral to its core.”

Clichés like “rising tides” and “gathering clouds” distracted from Obama’s “vision of social and economic restoration in the renewal of moral virtues—courage, honesty, fair play, loyalty, tolerance, patriotism, and duty.” His emphasis on permanent truths and virtues, Gerson writes, makes Obama "a conservative revolutionary—attempting to re-create our country by reasserting the traditional moral principles that gave it birth."