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“Ask not for what your country can do for you?” What will be the most quotable line?

We’re 9 days away from the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Whether (weather) or not you brave the chilly January day to show up in DC at the live event, the swearing in ceremony and the speech will have global coverage.

What are the chances of a line as memorable as John F. Kennedy’s in 1961? For 48 years this has been a tough speech writing act to follow. Back in November, we posed the question as to what the themes will be. The Kennedy line was memorable because of its simplicity…and also the way it was delivered.

Ironically, a non-inaugural, Republican line was recycled by Democrats during the election campaign. Ronald Reagan’s “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” was an oft-used theme and phrase (four became eight and occasionally 2 months.)

So, reusing a theme will not be surprising.

I do believe that there will be a call for citizen participation and involvement. What type of rhetoric or what words will be used will make a difference? Do you have any thoughts for what phrase or word will make it for posterity?


Nick Peters, SVP CommCore

Matt: My take is that Obama will look forward and not backward. Your suggested line is what his backers may be thinking and celebrating. I imagine he will speak much as he did at Grant Park, picking sticky lines that reflect a tone of measured optimism and opportunity balanced by some very tough reality checks.

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