The inaugural address might not have been Obama's best speech, he aimed high and laid out just what plans to do. Avlon is the author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America.
President Barack Obama opened his presidency as part preacher, part professor. He did not shy away from discussing policy details or diagnosing the challenges of our "time of gathering clouds and raging storms," but he rooted all of it in the American story and American values.
He went high and low, invoking history's sweep and a clear muscular message to terrorists: "We will defeat you." Obama declared independence from ideologies' false choices: "The question is not whether government is too big or too small—but whether it works." This was an address not just to Americans but to the people of the world, a call to the responsibilities of citizenship—and a much needed refocus on the legacy we leave to future generations.
He is the greatest orator we have recently had a president—exceeding even Reagan in the force of his rolling cadences. He is the first successful professional author since TR to serve as president and the words were well crafted. He has given greater speeches as inspirational set pieces—Iowa, New Hampshire—but no clearer definition of the challenges we face as nation or the vision of his administration. It did what an inaugural address is supposed to do—he set a direction and moved the American idea forward.
John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. Avlon also served as Director of Speechwriting and Deputy Director of Policy for Rudy Giuliani's Presidential Campaign. Previously, he was a columnist for the New York Sun and served as Chief Speechwriter and Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He worked on Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign.