Why do inaugural addresses fail?

They fail for two reasons: One subject to the speaker’s control; the other, not.

They fail, first, because the grandeur of the occasion inspires new presidents and their teams to overblown rhetoric, even as their political advisers steer them away from too specific commitments. Grand language wrapped around a thin message produces only vapid blather…

But there’s another source of failure, one not so easily corrected. Inaugural addresses can fail even when the ideas are clear, even when the writing is fine, if the addresses make commitments that the ensuing presidency cannot deliver.