Oration

How Will Obama’s Speech Rank?

For all the anticipation of Obama’s inaugural address, David Greenberg reminds readers of The Wall Street Journal “that the substance of most kick-off speeches is soon forgotten.” Obama is so popular right now, that he “will get rave reviews even if he reads straight from the Federal Register.” But will his speech stand history’s test? Greenberg surveys his five favorite inaugural addresses—JFK’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s, and two of FDR’s—and notices a trend: “For all their poetry and music, these few classics endure mainly for another reason: because of the greatness of the presidents who delivered them. … And so, writing a crackerjack inaugural address will be only the first, and easily the smallest, of Obama's forthcoming challenges.”