Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama's inaugural address

The words President Barack H. Obama spoke in his inaugural address may still be echoing across the Mall in Washington DC. The effective, efficient speech touched on many different issues and "spoke" to many different peoples.

Barack Obama giving his Inaugural addressEven though President Obama and his speechwriters didn't call me for assistance they may have visited this blog because they followed much of the advice I would have given. They made extensive use of the principle of 3's which gives a speech body without making it tedious. I counted 13 usages, starting with the very first sentence:

"I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors."

The president also made the more important statements in the active voice:

"... we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America ... we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals ... we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.'

In fact, one of the only edits I would have made was a key statement in which the passive voice crept in. Discussing the challenges we face he said, "But know this, America, they will be met." I would have recommended something like, "... we will meet these challenges - squarely, courageously and successfully."


All in all, not a bad inaugural, Mr. President. Of course, if you need any help in the future - i.e., on the State of the Union message - you know where to find me.


Kathie B said...

Like you, I thought Obama's inaugural address was very effective and moving. I especially liked that he spoke not only to Americans, but to the larger world--friends and foes alike. The passive voice "slip" is a good catch, Mike! I like your version better.

Mike Q said...

It was a pretty complex message for its briefness. Thanks, Kath.

John Ettorre said...

Interesting take, Mike. I learned something, which is always good.

Anonymous said...

Very observant, as always, Dad. I think Obama has a flair for rhetoric without getting carried away with himself or his eloquence. They teach the 3's rule in Toastmasters, too. It creates a rhythm that resonates with the ear. If I ever make a State of the Union address, you'll be the first person I call!

Mike Q said...

Thanks, guys. (Hmmm, I wonder why there are ten commandments? Too many. Three would have been better.)

John Ettorre said...

Mike, when your son comments admiringly (about anything dad does), you know you've done something right. When he does it publicly, double that.

Mike Q said...

When your sons get a little older they'll do it too.