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
RecommendedBehind the Scenes with Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Graham, and the Makers of American Civil Religion
Behind the Scenes with Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Graham, and the Makers of American Civil Religion
Kevin Kruse shows the surprising origins of “In God We Trust” and other mainstays of public piety.
TrendingMelinda Gates: ‘I’m Living Out My Faith in Action’
Melinda Gates: ‘I’m Living Out My Faith in Action’
One of the wealthiest and most controversial women in the world believes that all lives have equal value. She’s willing to spend $3.6 billion a year to prove her point.
Editor's PickMeet the Filmmaker Exposing Planned Parenthood
Meet the Filmmaker Exposing Planned Parenthood
How a 26-year-old founded the undercover operation to take down the abortion giant.
Comments
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.