We will have eight years (G-d Willing) to discuss and debate this as we track his presidential speeches and compare them with our Founding Fathers, with Lincoln, with Roosevelt and others.
The case still needs to be made in greater detail that Barack's speeches work because they draw on the imagery and rhetoric of America's (often nebulous) civil religion.
Nevertheless, it surely is the right question.
It was clear from her speeches that Hillary did not have sensitivity to religious language and concepts, a weakness that may have cost her dearly.
Religion Writer says:
Obama’s speech last night in St. Paul certainly had elements of this “general” faith. He said (according to the text of his prepared remarks):
And because of what you said - because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.
And then later:
In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.
True, these words do not contain direct references to God, but in speaking about hopes and aspirations as a defining political force, he somehow tapped that vein of civil religion, implying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that the greatest campaigns are those based on the inner human spirit.
Sen. Clinton at times disparaged Obama’s rhetoric as empty, saying in February:
We need to make a choice between speeches and solutions, because, while words matter greatly, the best words in the world aren’t enough unless you match them with action.But it seems like she bet wrong — speeches do matter, especially when you’re a candidate and speeches are pretty much all you have to offer.