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Speech Evokes Kennedy Legacy

By Joshua W. Shenk, Special to the Crimson

WASHINGTON--Bill Clinton, who displayed a keen instinct for symbolism in his run for the presidency, showed yesterday that he would package himself no less aggressively now that he has captured the White House.

In his inaugural address, President Clinton several times invoked the legacy of John F. Kennedy '40, the man after whom he has shaped his political life. He celebrated the ascension of a new generation of leaders, but was careful to show a mature poise, confidence and strength of resolve.

"Today, a generation raised in the shadows of the Cold War assumes new responsibilities in a world warmed by the sunshine of freedom but threatened still by ancient hatreds and new plagues," Clinton said. Kennedy's "now the trumpet summons us again"echoed in Clinton's "We have heard the trumpets.We have changed the guard."

Later in the speech, he said, "While Americarebuilds at home, we will not shrink from thechallenges, nor fail to seize the opportunities,of this new world. Together with our friends andallies, we will work to shape change, lest itengulf us."

Clinton's words harkened back to Kennedy'sfamous warning, "Let every nation know, whether itbears us well or ill, that we shall pay any price,bear any burden, meet any hardship, support anyfriend, oppose any foe, to assure the survivalliberty."

But the symbolism of an inauguration oftentranscends the ceremony itself, which lasted just40 minutes out of four days of celebration. Justas significant was the mood of the 250,000 whopacked the mall and the streets nearby to try tocatch a glimpse of the new president.

Of the dozens of buttons and t-shirts on saleyesterday, the most popular showed the newpresident wailing on his sax--many vendors liftedthe image directly from his performance on theArsenio Hall show. Crowds gathered around VincentHamond, a street musician who played his sax infront of the Labor Department.

"I wouldn't mind jamming with Bill," Hamondsaid.

Indeed, most of the crowd seemed to want apiece of Clinton--not just as a brush with famebut to share his exuberance.

In one of few interruptions of his speech, thecrowd broke into applause and cheers when Clintonsaid, "Thomas Jefferson believed that to preservethe very foundations of ou nation, we would needdramatic change from time to time. My fellowcitizens, this is our time. Let us embrace it."

Clinton's youthful style--his emphasis onexercise, his penchant for impromptu trips toMcDonald's, his hugging other men inpublic--seemed to wear well on the crowd.Thousands lined a section of Pennsylvania Avenueoutside the parade route, in the hope that Clintonmight step out of his limousine on his ride to theWhite House.

Congratulations and celebration were the orderof the day, with virtually no talk of policy--theClintons spent the morning with the Bushes, theafternoon at the inauguration and parade, and theevening touring the 11 official balls.

Clinton's brief honeymoon will soon end. Butthe former governor of Arkansas pressed the mediaand fellow politicians for room to operate in hisspeech, declaring that change requires sacrifice.

Clinton asked the country that elected him totrust him--even when they're not thrilled withwhat he's doing. His youthful appeals, temperedwith stern warnings of difficult tasks to come,may help toward that end--at least for a day ortwo.

The address is not expected to be a majorfactor in his early popularity, but the presidentcertainly hopes it will be remembered.

"We won't be able to really assess Clinton'sinaugural until we see him in retrospect," saidVanderbilt University professor Erwin Hargrove."Inaugurals are a portent for the futurepresidency.

Later in the speech, he said, "While Americarebuilds at home, we will not shrink from thechallenges, nor fail to seize the opportunities,of this new world. Together with our friends andallies, we will work to shape change, lest itengulf us."

Clinton's words harkened back to Kennedy'sfamous warning, "Let every nation know, whether itbears us well or ill, that we shall pay any price,bear any burden, meet any hardship, support anyfriend, oppose any foe, to assure the survivalliberty."

But the symbolism of an inauguration oftentranscends the ceremony itself, which lasted just40 minutes out of four days of celebration. Justas significant was the mood of the 250,000 whopacked the mall and the streets nearby to try tocatch a glimpse of the new president.

Of the dozens of buttons and t-shirts on saleyesterday, the most popular showed the newpresident wailing on his sax--many vendors liftedthe image directly from his performance on theArsenio Hall show. Crowds gathered around VincentHamond, a street musician who played his sax infront of the Labor Department.

"I wouldn't mind jamming with Bill," Hamondsaid.

Indeed, most of the crowd seemed to want apiece of Clinton--not just as a brush with famebut to share his exuberance.

In one of few interruptions of his speech, thecrowd broke into applause and cheers when Clintonsaid, "Thomas Jefferson believed that to preservethe very foundations of ou nation, we would needdramatic change from time to time. My fellowcitizens, this is our time. Let us embrace it."

Clinton's youthful style--his emphasis onexercise, his penchant for impromptu trips toMcDonald's, his hugging other men inpublic--seemed to wear well on the crowd.Thousands lined a section of Pennsylvania Avenueoutside the parade route, in the hope that Clintonmight step out of his limousine on his ride to theWhite House.

Congratulations and celebration were the orderof the day, with virtually no talk of policy--theClintons spent the morning with the Bushes, theafternoon at the inauguration and parade, and theevening touring the 11 official balls.

Clinton's brief honeymoon will soon end. Butthe former governor of Arkansas pressed the mediaand fellow politicians for room to operate in hisspeech, declaring that change requires sacrifice.

Clinton asked the country that elected him totrust him--even when they're not thrilled withwhat he's doing. His youthful appeals, temperedwith stern warnings of difficult tasks to come,may help toward that end--at least for a day ortwo.

The address is not expected to be a majorfactor in his early popularity, but the presidentcertainly hopes it will be remembered.

"We won't be able to really assess Clinton'sinaugural until we see him in retrospect," saidVanderbilt University professor Erwin Hargrove."Inaugurals are a portent for the futurepresidency.

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