Henry Allen, in today’s WaPo has a lengthy article on rhetoric--even with iambs, anapests, and chiasmus, (although we could do without the references to deconstruction) rarely seen in newspapers--that is worth reading. He glides over Aristotle and ethos, pathos, logos, all of which Edward Everett, who failed, would have understood, but perhaps not Lincoln, who succeeded. Lincoln had credibility (part of ethos) by the time of the Second Inaugural. He built it honestly through extreme hardships, and steel hard decisions. In that sense, the incoming president is at a disadvantage, his credibility is not yet built through the office, yet perfect rhetoric is expected of him from the start.
That aside, this public transfer of part of the government has to be one of the great public spectacles in the world today. I talked with an eighteen year old in the center of Europe yesterday, not a political creature, and this is all she wanted to talk about. She and her friends think this event is--this transfer of real power--and in this case to a black man--as she said in English, awesome. She then congratulated the Americans.