MSNBC bloviator Chris Matthews, he of the famous tingle up the leg, summed up Monday’s inaugural address by President Obama. “It reminds me of another second inaugural, Lincoln’s, so much of Lincoln in that speech, from the Gettysburg Address to the second inaugural itself.”
Now, inaugurations are, by nature, a day of lofty rhetoric. The peaceful passing of power, or maintenance of power, in this case, does, in fact, set the U.S. apart from most nations on Earth. And presidents, as they have for more than two centuries, strike out to capture the essence of America — its resilience, humility, optimism.
But the Gettysburg Address — delivered when the U.S. was on the brink of tearing itself apart — is, and always will be, unique. There can never be another such address, nor should we wish one. In those terse 278 words, a beaten and exhausted President Lincoln captured the very soul of America — her fears, her strengths, her humility, her reliance on the greater power of God.
Of course, Mr. Obama set out to do the very same. Yet his 2,107 words turned out to be words of discord and distemper, a lengthy lecture to the half of America that opposed him Nov. 6, 2012, and an arrogant wink of the eye to the half that supported him.