The vision for the Presidency usually is cast in the Presidential Inaugural Address. The theme of President Barack Obama's address was a call to responsibility and service. Compared to his other speeches, most notably his address given at the Democratic Conventions in 2004 and most recently in 2008 at Invesco Field at Mile High, President Obama's speech did not have the same fervor reminiscent of his style of oratory. Further, his speech did not cast a vision for the future, but centered on imminent concerns. No doubt, it was a hard lined speech with clear directives and outlined his vision for not only his Presidency, but the nation.
In his speech, he addressed the ongoing war in Iraq, the failing economy, healthcare and education. He called for all Americans to assume a collective responsibility for the failures the nation has endured. He noted that a new day had dawned in the United States, because "we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." He praised the efforts of revolutionaries past from Gettysburg to Normandy to Khe Sahn. His speech echoed the contributions of immigrants and pioneers who in search of new frontiers left the familiar for uncertainty. Hence, he called for unity of all races and people, Jews, Christians, Muslims and non-believers alike.
President Obama assured that the grandiose rhetoric of his ambitions will not be undermined. He notes that history has proven that the people of the United States are capable of rising to the occasion and will not relent now. Echoing the sentiments of President John F. Kennedy, Barack charges Americans not to ask "whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works," the answer to which Americans will expect his administration to deliver, starting with the first 100 days in office.
On issues of national security, President Obama sent out a mixed message to the Muslim world, offering friendship to those who would take the offer and the threat of sticks to those "who seek to sow conflict and blame their society's ills on the West." I interpret this as a strong message to terrorists and detractors that attacks of any sort will not be tolerated. He called for altruism and for a selfless spirit as efforts at wealth redistribution begin.
Urging Americans to unite, the speech was a call to responsibility and service. A call that complacency cannot be permitted because "God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny." His speech echoed that this will be a participatory government and all Americans will be called upon to give of their talents and resources to serve this great nation. For "let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
For full text of the speech please visit npr.org.