First Words: The Best and Worst of Inaugural Speeches

Choice words and measured phrases can set a presidency in motion. When America’s forty-fourth president takes office, his inaugural address will circle the globe. Barack Obama’s speech will be recorded, posted on YouTube, and broadcast worldwide in all forms of media. The best of his words will be remembered; his less fortunate words or phrases may be quoted later as well.

Kennedy had his soaring eloquence. Lincoln, his inspirational message. Franklin Roosevelt delivered no-nonsense, and Reagan had his soothing, telegenic talk. The inaugural first words: they foreshadow the character of leadership to come.

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