January 14th, 2009
03:27 PM ET

What Obama must say Tuesday

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Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

The inaugural address is a seminal moment in the development of every president. This is a relatively short speech, normally thin on detail and big on message points.

Obama, an inspirational orator, must use this opportunity well. As he confronts an enormously challenging economy and an unstable world, particularly after the terrorist attacks in India and fighting in Gaza, Obama must capitalize on this moment to positively shape the character of his presidency.

If he looks back in time for guidance, Obama can learn a lot from some of his predecessors as he decides which messages should and should not make it into the final text.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Inauguration Day
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Annie Kate

    I hope Obama has something similar to JFK's "ask not" statement in his speech. In helping each other we help ourselves and we need to get back to participating in civic projects so we can not only improve our country but we can reach out to our neighbors and get in touch with them once more. I'm looking forward to Obama's speech – I wouldn't be at all surprised if Obama coins a phrase like FDR and JFK did that takes on a life of its own outside of the inaugural address.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm |