Baer: Obama's speech should show direction

Jan. 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Don Baer, a former chief speechwriter for President Clinton, said President Obama's inaugural speech should be a "statement of direction."

In an appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Baer said it is not enough for Obama to present a statement of unity at his public inauguration Monday.

"This has to be a statement of direction, of forward momentum, about where we are going to move and how he is going to move us there as president," he said.

Obama, though, should not try to gloss over the political divisions within the United States, Baer added.

"I think the president does need to address, in a forthright manner, the profound polarization in our society, a polarization that makes common purposes difficult, a polarization between Congress and the president that produces gridlock and polarization of opportunity in our country, where there's stalled mobility at the bottom of our country, durable problems about the opportunity of the nation, the promise of the nation, those would be very rich themes for a president to address," he said.

Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, says he hopes Obama does not use his speech for political leverage.

"If he writes a large, generous speech, he will actually gain leverage in the system, because he will put the system itself on a different plane than himself and the presidency," he said. "America is bigger than these small fights we have been having."

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