History to Judge Obama's Inaugural Speech

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President-elect Barack Obama will be under historical pressure to deliver a speech for the ages at his Jan. 20 swearing-in.

The pressure's on for Barack Obama, orator.

History wants something for the ages in his Jan. 20 inaugural speech. Not just pretty words that melt like gumdrops but something that will settle in the nation's soul and be worth making schoolchildren memorize 100 years from now.

Americans want something for the dispiriting times they live in. They have their first extraordinary speaker in decades taking the oath of office. They know how good he's been. Time for great.

How tall is the order?

"The great task of Barack Obama is to be a John F. Kennedy or to be a Ronald Reagan -- truly inspire the American people and in a few succinct, memorable lines, lay out for the country your new vision for America," says American University political historian Allan J. Lichtman.

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