Guest / Limited Access /

Former speechwriter Michael Gerson was quick to parse President Obama's speech to the nation on Tuesday, calling it "rhetorically flat" but "quite interesting from an ideological perspective." Gerson's pen was behind President George W. Bush's inaugural addresses in 2001 and 2005, and in preparation, he studied every single presidential inaugural address in American history.

Now a columnist for the Washington Post, Gerson spoke with Christianity Today yesterday about Obama's inaugural address, religious references, and whether he thinks an evangelical should serve in the new administration.

What did you think of the inauguration?

I thought it was surprising. I came to Obama's speech in many ways expecting something that would be rhetorically masterful and maybe ideologically shallow, because of his ideological background, and we got something very different from that.

I thought it was rhetorically flat, uninteresting from a literary perspective, but quite interesting from an ideological perspective. He set out some interesting themes about political pragmatism. It was one of the strongest defenses of pragmatism against ideology in any inaugural address that I can recall. I think that his assurances on national security issues were pretty reassuring. He recognized that we're in a war and talked about defeating our enemies and talked about soft power a little bit with the fight against global poverty — I thought all those things were good. And then his closing theme of renewing America by returning to its oldest values and virtues — he used the word "virtues" — is a traditional inaugural theme, but I think a very good one.

He talked about loyalty, and duty, and responsibility, among other things, and I think that's ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedMost Pastors Aren't Voting Trump as Primaries Approach
Most Pastors Aren't Voting Trump as Primaries Approach
(UPDATED) In Iowa, evangelicals split caucus votes mostly between Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio.
TrendingWhat to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
What to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
(UPDATED) Charting how Lenten abstinence has changed over time, as 2016 data comes in.
Editor's PickThe Lord Is My Shepherd or Predator?
The Lord Is My Shepherd or Predator?
Many people today find the famous psalm troubling. But we need it now more than ever.
Christianity Today
Michael Gerson: Obama's Speech Rhetorically Flat, but Ideologically ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.