Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Paine and the President

On the night in November when Barack Obama's victory was confirmed, he quoted Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, and most would see a clear line of descent from those great orators. But there was little of the soaring exultation of "Yes We Can" in Obama's first presidential speech on Tuesday. Instead, delightfully, he went back to the true founding fathers of his great nation.

In fact CNN reports that: if the speech could be said to have an animating spirit, it was that of Thomas Paine.

Ben McIntyre in the Times conveys the same message, albeit with a more informal tone: The words of a drunken, dishevelled Norfolk pamphleteer lay at the heart of the new President's message

That pamphleteer provided the title and inspiration for everything I write here.

He also provided the title and inspiration for the United States of America.

Common Sense is the way out of Crisis.

4 comments:

Faisal said...

A couple of memorable phrases would not have gone amiss. It was a nice speech, but also one that is easy to forget.

Still, I am very inspired by the new president. He has already undone a lot of damage.

Rana said...

It's a fair point, the post looks a bit empty and incomplete without more embedded quotes.

But it was conscious choice really, that vague ideal of "100 words per message" and the links allow you to get to the detail if wanted.

And Sunday post will be longer :)

Faisal said...

I meant Obama's speech, not your post! :) I think he had a good speech, but there was nothing memorable about it. Unlike JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country", Obama said stuff that can only be paraphrased, not remembered and quoted.

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