Sworn In: Inaugural Speeches from the Most Recent Two-Termers
A look back at the presidential prose of the last three commanders-in-chief
Who’s that person yapping on and on about American exceptionalism and the need to perfect the union?
It’s likely the man – and hopefully one day soon the woman – who has just taken the presidential oath of office.
Inaugural addresses, in and of themselves, are important pieces of the historical record. They can set the tone for a successful or failed first term. They can be the “reset button” for an unlikely second term.
As President Barack Obama prepared to deliver his second inaugural address Monday, his speechwriters were undoubtedly aware that every word and syllable might be weighed and dissected by historians, political analysts and partisan foes.
That’s because “we have very complicated, contradictory notions of who we expect our presidents to be,” wrote Ted Widner, in an analysis of 54 inaugural address for "The American Scholar."
Widner reasons that Americans want the president to be “the leader of a political party…the symbol of the nation…the military commander-in-chief…the oracle, therapist, and self-empowerment guru for nearly 300 million people.”
For part 2 of Clinton's 1997 inaugural address, click here.
Who gave the better speech? Tell us in the Comments section below!