Speechwriters disagree on Obama’s inaugural address

How did Obama fare in his first speech as president? Speechwriters weigh in—some not so favorably. Video

How did Obama fare in his first speech as president? Speechwriters weigh in—some not so favorably

In a highly anticipated inaugural address, President Barack Obama delivered his usual soaring and elegant rhetoric while recalling speeches and remarks from presidents Washington to Reagan.

But did he give a speech that professional communicators can admire and emulate? The reviews from speechwriters are mixed.

“President Obama’s inaugural address was a flop,” former Reagan administration speechwriter Hal Gordon tells Ragan.com. “I expected more than a pack of political clichés.”

Other former presidential scribes, like Ken Askew, who worked for Bush 41, thinks Obama delivered a tough and relatable message without saddling his audience with bad news.

“I would guess most Americans—not just blacks, not just Democrats, not just those who voted for Obama—felt he was speaking on their—his or her—behalf,” Askew said.

Here are the details, and a few lessons, from the 44th president’s inaugural address, according to professional speechwriters.

A rocky start gives way to rhetorical mastery

After shaking off the cobwebs in the first 150 words, Obama hit his rhetorical stride and quickly fulfilled expectations, Jenner says.

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