As President Obama spoke, I listened to the structure, the cadence, the content, the meaning, the message. I listened for the memorable sound bite. President Obama is certainly capable of soaring rhetoric, he could stand toe to toe with Martin Luther King, Jr., but in this speech, he did not deliver the one phrase that stands above all else nor did he whip the crowd to a frenzied peak. Was this a mistake? I believe not.
Our new President spoke to the world on the topics and in a manner that were most appropriate to the occasion.
- He spoke to who he is: "I stand here today, humbled by the task ... grateful for the trust ... mindful of the sacrifices"
- He spoke to a new outlook: "we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord"
- He spoke to our pride: "there are some who question the scale of our ambitions ... but their memories are short. For they have forgotten ... what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage'
- He spoke to the world of a new America: 'we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals'
- He spoke to our strength: "I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. ... But know this, America - they will be met.'
As I watched the faces in the crowd, I saw that people were drawing from the speech, the day, the experience, just what they needed. Each person would hear the phrase that spoke to him or her. President Obama didn't deliver one phrase for everyone, he delivered one phrase to each listener's heart.
He was presidential. He was a statesman. He was true to who he is - an intelligent, thoughtful, wise man. A leader.