Chart of the Day: The Hope and Change Index
Barack Obama is fond of hope and change. By one tally, he said “hope” nearly 450 times in speeches delivered on the campaign trail. (By contrast, his rival John McCain only used the word 175 times.) “Change”, too, was a campaign buzzword. If Mr. Obama makes heavy use of both words in his inaugural speech he would be following in the footsteps of William Taft a century ago. Taft delivered the most “hopeful” inaugural speech of the past 100 years, and was keen on change, too. Only Bill Clinton, in his first speech in 1993, talked about change more (see chart above, click to enlarge).
While hope has found a place in each of the 25 inaugural addresses, change is used more sparingly. Six inaugural speeches did not contain the word; six more made use of it just once. Presidents coming to office during economic booms, such as Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding in the 1920s, Dwight Eisenhower and then George Bush junior, have been heavier users of hope than those who were inaugurated during leaner times. By that yardstick, expect more change and less hope when Mr. Obama speaks.