Thursday, January 8, 2009

Writing an inaugural address is not as taxing as reading older ones, as Barack Obama has no doubt learned. Jill Lepore's trudge through two hundred-twenty some-odd years of pedantry, solecisms, and catalogues worthy of the Book of Numbers is worth a read (it's also wittier than most of the addresses). She's too hard on John Adams', thanks to an infamous sentence that I'm tempted to call proto-Proustian; and too soft on James Garfield's, whose intelligence (our most erudite president after Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt) unfortunately fails to relieve his own self-written speech of ponderosities as overtaxed as his beard.

No comments: