Tag Archives: oratory

Pedestrian. Equivocating. Backward looking. Full of cliches.

My review of the speech given by President Obama at the ceremony marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

The end.

More on Obama’s speech from around the interwebs

I was not alone in finding Obama’s acceptance speech lacking.

Kevin Drum in Mother Jones:

Barack Obama’s speech tonight was….OK. But that was about all. It meandered, it skittered, and most of the time it seemed oddly themeless . . . there was nothing memorable, nothing forward looking, and nothing that drew a contrast with Romney in sharp, gut-level strokes.

Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast

Let’s be blunt. Barack Obama gave a dull and pedestrian speech tonight, with nary an interesting thematic device, policy detail, or even one turn of phrase . . . This was the rhetorical equivalent of running out the clock . . . he thinks he’s ahead and just doesn’t need to make mistakes.

When you’re running against people to whom facts are irrelevant, the way you kill them is with facts. Not with rhetoric that’s vague and too subtle.

And here, Tomasky likes the same word that send those shivers up and down my back:

The only sentence I really liked was the one about citizenship. It makes my heart happy to hear a president use the word, because a lot of them don’t very much, especially Democratic ones, who are probably warned that the word might offend the non-citizen community. So that felt like it might be the start of something interesting, but it too just sort of floated out the window.

Joe Klein at Time Magazine kinda liked the speech, but also said:

He recognized the difficulty of our situation. He cknowledged mistakes. But he did not close the deal. The speech disappointed me, and I’m not quite sure  why.

But I still wonder: What is he going to do with his second term? What are the next things we need to do as a nation?

Klein also said this – not exactly about the speech, but I like it, so here:

To be sure, he gave us more than Romney. Romney has given us practically nothing. And the expansive joy of the Democrats, in all their many wonderful  hues, was far more bracing than the heavily narcotized and traitjacketed rage of the Republicans in tamped-down Tampa last week. The Republicans’ untoward anger, their illegitimate fantasies about Barack Obama, is an American disgrace. I like and admire the President; he’s smart and funny and exemplary. He’s made some very difficult decisions, correct decisions under impossible circumstances. He pulled us from the brink, from an economic disaster largely caused by the plutocrats now criticizing him so shamelessly and falsely. But I want more from him, more guidance, more leadership. Somehow — and this is still true for an electoral majority of Americans — we all do.

I’m not liking this speech

Is it just me?

After all the passion in the speeches leading up to Obama . . . this speech feels very disjointed. And he’s not saying anything new. He’s repeating stuff he’s said many times and repeating what’s been said earlier by other speakers.

This awful thematic phrase “you can choose” makes it sound vaguely informcialish. I think it’s a terrible phrase and means nothing.

Obama is giving a stump speech.

(although he did just say ‘citizenship’, a word I’m always longing to hear)

Oh I luvz me some Joe Biden

Leaving no prisoners! None at all.

“Why Bill Clinton’s speeches succeed”

James Fallows has a fascinating column today in The Atlantic. Here’s why he thinks Clinton connects:

Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.

That is the significance of “They want us to think” and “The strongest argument is” and “The arithmetic says one of three things must happen” and even “Now listen to me here, this is important.” He is showing that he understands the many layers of logic and evidence and positioning and emotion that go into political discussion — and, more important, he takes for granted that listeners can too. . . .

He compares Clinton’s style to Sports Radio Talk, where it’s assumed listeners understand the nuances and finer points of rules nad strategy and analysis. He goes on:

It’s the difference between clarifying, and over-simplifying. Clarification, with the confidence that people can understand the back and forth, lies behind passages like this, which characterized most of the speech.

I think he’s got it exactly right.

No one, absolutely no one . . .

loves giving a political speech more than big Bill Clinton. The man simply adores it. And it was grand.

Bill Clinton has gorgeous hands

Just beautiful hands . . . no  wonder he uses them so much when speaking.

You go big dog!

A good speech at last

Alright, I’ve only seen a few of tonight’s speeches but nothing excited me till just now, when Sister something-or-other of Nuns on the Bus  did a bit of much needed barn burning. She was wonderful, joyous, generous and very mischevious. Thank you Sister.

As Catholic Sisters, we must speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

This is the rising star?

Tonight’s keynoter: this speech isn’t working for me. The young mayor of San Antonio is handsome for sure. Hispanic for sure. And a very good speaker. But so far – he’s still speaking – the lad hasn’t managed to light my fire. 

One thing bothered me right off the bat: he does that thing Obama does, where he lowers his voice almost to a whisper to deliver the punch line (right into the mic of course). I never like it when Obama does it and I like it less when a young wanna-be does it.

I’m probably being unfair. This is an accomplished kid and I’m here sitting on my very comfortable couch thinking about a bowl of raspberries with some confectioners’ sugar sprinkled on top.


Now Cory Booker is leaving everyone before him in the dust

It’s just getting better and better. Tonight is full of that ole time religion!!

Strickland rocks too

If Lewis Black had a child with Lyndon Johnson, they’d have to name the kid Ted Strickland. I’ve never heard him before; he’s the former Democratic governor of Ohio. I’ve  counted more political clichés than it should be decently possible to squeeze into a single speech – and he’s making every single one of them work.

More of this please.

Well, Marco, aren’t you just the altar boy!

Senator Rubio of my own enlightened State is  clearly a rising star. He’s definitely got it. Which is why he’s been given the official rising star slot tonight, introducing Romney. And right now, he’s speaking.

And my oh my but isn’t he the pious one – he just offered the requisite boilerplate and utterly unoriginal statement of belief that we’re one ole nation ‘under God’.  And he took it just a step further and nearly pledged us to the service of, what I believe he called, ‘almighty God’.

Check the transcript. It was over the line.

The script is getting soooo old

Everyone with a microphone knows what Mitt Romney ‘needs to do’ with his speech tonight. They are agreed, they are certain. He must show his human side. He must ‘tell his story’.

I think they are wrong. We already know who he is, and it is not the guy you’d like to have a beer with. He’s a technocrat, a strategizer, an analyst and he’s been very very successful where those qualities have mattered.

He shouldn’t hide from it. He should acknowledge – publicly – who he isn’t. It would be refreshing in a Christie kind of way.

But whichever way he goes, he’ll still be a weak candidate unless he actually presents a vision that goes beyond the bumper sticker talking points.

Don’t misconstrue this as a case for Romney. I won’t be voting for him, not least because that would put you-know-who a heartbeat away. Obama is my choice.

There was this too

PBS coverage ended so I’m over at MSNBC for the first time (this is the fun part). Mathews called Christie’s speech ‘almost Churchillian’. And he meant it. He clearly admired the speech.

Tom Brokaw however, just had the most interesting observation: in all these hours, with all these speakers, there was not one single mention of the two longest wars in America’s history.

How ’bout that.  Enough. Off to bed.


Chris Christie . . .

. . . is one hell of a speaker.

UPDATE: Although . . . some of his rhetoric – two thirds of the way in – about ‘what Democrats have done to the economy’ is getting half hearted applause.