InternationalMarkets & Economy

What we can learn about leaders from their speeches

Friday's speech was another rally rabble-rouser; here's how it measures up
  • The belligerent edges of Friday's inauguration speech were sandpapered smooth but still there, the need or desire for unity missing altogether.
  • The first post-inaugural consequence: The new administration has put on indefinite hold the FHA’s reduction in mortgage insurance.
  • The Federal Reserve will likely next raise rates at its March meeting.

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Sometimes inaugural speeches are a droning bore, sometimes inspiring, once in a long while sad, and sometimes reveal a bit of the speaker’s character. Friday’s made the last category. For most-inspiring, Jack Kennedy’s soaring “Let us...!” is hard to beat. Its most famous line, “Ask not...” came directly from The Choate School Headmaster’s exhortation in 1934 chapel to “... do for your school.” My Dad was in that chapel with Jack, and Dad laughed out loud at the cribbed line in the inaugural. Friday's speech was another rally rabble-rouser, the belligerent edges sandpapered smooth but still there, the need or desire for unity missing altogether. “America First” was the rallying cry of those who would have left all of Europe to Nazi Germany. Today, many people inside and out of America know what “America First” meant, and the meanness of its sentiment. For the depth and splintering of that disunion, good people on its several sides (my Dad...