January 19, 2009

The Inaugural Address: It will be better than Harrison's & worse than Lincoln's

Look, it's a countdown clock. Today is Bush's last day. There is really a lot being written everywhere about all the inaugural address. There's a great article in the New Yorker here, by Jill Lapore, which follows the art of writing the address thru James Garfield's re-reading of his predecessors, procrastinating, & writing about it in his diary for posterity. (Garfield is pictured to the right in a sexy hat.) And there's an extremely useful interactive feature at the New York Times here. It shows what words were most used for each of the addresses, which is a good way to skim them all for content. William Henry Harrison is always mentioned when inaugural addresses are discussed, because he had the longest speech, & he is our briefest reigning president, not unrelatedly: it was standing out in the cold to ramble on for two hours, that he contracted pneumonia & died. Harrison's most used word was "power." (Creepily, "power" is high on the list for Kennedy & Garfield, who also died in office. Obama, please avoid that word.) The word "America" is only popular with Harding, Nixon, Clinton & Bush.

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