Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Address Confidence Game

The very word cuts both ways--meaning true trust and also deception, as in "confidence game." But the added layer of irony for Barack Obama's Inaugural Address is that, in an environment of potential panic, confidence is a key to getting America back on track.

Whatever he says after taking the oath today will in itself be as crucial, as real in its impact, as the stimulus bills, bailouts and fiscal maneuvering to come.

The new President knows that. With his uncanny emotional intelligence, Obama understands that he will be treading many lines today--between rhetoric and reality, between offering hope and asking for sacrifice, between creating uplift and being down to earth, between Martin Luther King's lofty dreams and his "fierce urgency of now."

In all likelihood, Barack Obama will offer himself not as the agent of change but the instrument of the American people's determination to have it. His first words as President will be intended to inspire confidence, not in himself but his listeners and the community they have created.

The political pundits have been playing the expectations game for The Speech, but it will ultimately be judged not as a performance but as the start of a new era of straight talk.

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