Falling flat

Obama’s inauguration speech underwhelmed:

Despite nearly two months of fine-tuning, the man whose gift for oratory helped launch him into the White House gave a rather flat and unfocused talk without any memorable lines. It didn’t even generate much applause among the Obama die-hards who had waited outside in the bitter cold to be a part of history.
The 19-minute address was filled with trite metaphors from “the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms” to “let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.” At times, its somber tone recalled Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” talk rather than the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan or Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Even a liberal blogger at Firedoglake called it the “Worst. Inauguration. Ever.” And here’s Christopher Hitchens (who voted for Obama):

It’s just that there’s an element of hubris in all this current hope-mongering and that I am beginning to be a little bit afraid to think of what Wednesday morning will feel like.

Via Instapundit, as also this absurd encomium from Walter Shapiro:

The graceful Inaugural poet, Elizabeth Alexander, spoke after the poetry. For it was Barack Obama’s long-anticipated speech that truly showed the writerly hand. There were echoes of prior inaugural addresses (particularly John Kennedy, but also flickers of Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton) in the new president’s words, but repeatedly there were striking phrases and sudden bursts of imagery that made it Obama’s own. Whether it was through simple language about the “the still waters of peace” and the nation’s “patchwork heritage” or the angry evocations of “the lash of the whip” and “the bitter swill of civil war and segregation,” President Obama reminded the nation that here was a man who wrote himself into his job.

As the founder of Authors Against Obama, I merely note en passant this unsubstantiated attribution of literary prowess. Given the evidence that Bill Ayers ghost-wrote Dreams From My Father, I am naturally suspicious whenever Obama becomes too eloquent, but this speech wasn’t so good that Jon Favreau couldn’t have written it.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers. He calls it a “pretty good speech.” Watch out, Professor: “damning with faint praise” may soon be classified as a hate crime. You want to strive for the Kathleen Parker “puddles of Hope” worship of his awe-inspiring awesome awesomeness.

UPDATE II: “Churlish right-wingers” indulging in “easy cynicism” — that’s us! Me and Jonah Goldberg!

UPDATE III: Ace of Spades catches Garrison Keillor wading through the puddles of Hope — Ace, can you explain that joke to Dean Esmay?

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