James Forsyth

Restrained but effective

Restrained but effective
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On pure rhetorical terms, the speech was not as great as Kennedy or Reagan’s first. But it gave us a guide to his presidency. We saw an Obama here who was lifting a nation up, bracing it for the challenges ahead but with confidence in the future. Indeed, the passages about how America would overcome its challenges were positively Reaganesque.

In terms of domestic policy, Obama came across as a classic new frontier liberal: full of talk of opportunity and personal responsibility. On foreign policy, Obama made clear he represented a break with the Bush administration while striking a hawkish tone.

Obama was restrained today, more so than I expected. This was not an address like Obama’s Jefferson Jackson one in Iowa that kick-started his campaign or his 2004 Convention address. But it was presidential, sober and ready for the challenges ahead. It was a cautious but impressive start to his presidency.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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