An American Speech | New York Times Blog | 01.20.09

President Barack Obama delivered a deeply American inaugural address. He called for putting aside old rivalries and hostilities, as did Abraham Lincoln in both of his inaugurals. He put forward his view of the current crisis and the principles he will follow in meeting it, as did Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan when they were first sworn in. Like John F. Kennedy, he addressed one by one others in the world, warning adversaries of our fortitude and affirming to friends our faithful alliance.

Using the words of George Washington, he invoked the spirit of patriotic purpose and endurance. As have all new presidents, he affirmed the American experience and our national ideals, doing it with particular force and grace. Finally, in subtle notes, he entwined the African-American experience in his portrait of the nation’s legacy and its destiny. It was a marvelous address.

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