Obama's Velvet-Glove Inaugural Address

Straight Up: POTUS went for the light touch. A good speech, but maybe not one for the history books.

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Obama's second inaugural, in a fashion, fits the metaphor of a velvet glove. He went for the light touch. In lieu of declaring sides, plainly identifying friends and foes and openly embracing ideological taglines, Obama raised high our core values and principles and then linked them to how we must approach governing in our time. There are some virtues to having crafted the speech in a fashion that assured that many beyond his most ardent allies heard and will be potentially moved by it. Bravo and well done. 

Yet within that velvet glove, many of us hope, Obama stands ready to wield a steel fist. One television commentator noted that Obama has been longer on his "outside the Beltway game" than his "inside the Beltway game." I think I see in this speech a much shrewder and more seasoned D.C. insider in Obama. I am not yet ready to forecast greatness, but Obama impresses me as truly ready to seize this moment.

Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. 

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