58 2 mins 13 yrs

Conventional wisdom,  and November’s Presidential election,  tell us that President Obama is a persuasive and eloquent speaker.  Lately, I’ve been trying to parse Obama’s speeches to determine what exactly it is that make so many swoon. 

There are discernable patterns. The ubiquitous teleprompter.  Avoidance of specifics. Sweeping generalities and a preacher’s cadence.  And…an obvious, shameless use of strawmen to frame an argument. 

Rove compares Obama’s speech patterns to those of another President, Abraham Lincoln:

“…Lincoln offered careful, rigorous, sustained arguments to advance his aims and, when disagreeing with political opponents, rarely relied on the lazy rhetorical device of “straw men.” Mr. Obama, on the other hand, routinely ascribes to others views they don’t espouse and says opposition to his policies is grounded in views no one really advocates. (my emphasis)

On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, “I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.” Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity.”

Mr. Obama also said that America’s economic difficulties resulted when “regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.” Who gutted which regulations?…”

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58 thoughts on “Do Words Matter?

  1. Rove, having devoted himself to working for President Bush, of course is best suited to contrast other Presidents oratory with Lincoln.

  2. Patty:

    Is there an issue? Obama won. He can write. He can speak. He has a brain. He’s handsome. He has personality. He has policies that don’t involve bombing the shit out of imagined foes.

    Other than that he’s a *hack, spit* Democrat what’s the problem?

  3. Patty –

    There are discernable patterns. The ubiquitous teleprompter. Avoidance of specifics. Sweeping generalities and a preacher’s cadence. And…an obvious, shameless use of strawmen to frame an argument.

    I do sympathise. You have your own Tony Blair, and nothing could persuade me to re-live that horrendous decade.

    I said it before November 4, on a hunch, and all I’ve seen since has reinforced it – Obama is another Blair – a dim revolutionary, uninterested in his nation, and vicious towards opponents.

    As for Rove,

    On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view?

    Sadly, too few people. And there is no ‘common’ prosperity.

  4. >>Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government<<

    I think Obama meant more positive intervention.

    And it’s a measure of his qualities that his detractors have to compare his rhetoric to Lincoln to show any shortcomings, the same people who until very recently supported a man with the rhetoric talents of Donald Duck.

  5. Patty – Your piece is a hatchet job and then you don’t like it when people hit back?

    What issue? Rove is a partisan hack who makes a living being a partisan hack. Did you think he was going to praise the speech? If he did he wouldn’t be invited for cocktails at the rightwing think tanks (sorry, belief tanks).

  6. Obama’s rhetoric is notoriously short on fact, and notoriously heavy on fluff.

    That works well enough for someone campaigning but it is a real problem in the real world.

    The stock market – international financial decision centers – has decided that Obama represents destruction of the capital markets. The market tanks every time he bellies up to the podium.

    He needs to defend his policies and the direction he would like to take the country in as specific a manner as possible.

    His use of strawmen fool only the foolish, but leave those looking for some substance confused and ultimately disheartened.

  7. Noel: He is being compared to Lincoln by Rove in this piece in the WSJ because Obama compares himself to Lincoln.

  8. Obama admires Lincoln greatly and has been influenced by the 16th President in ways – not sure that I have heard him compare himself to him.

    Others have made the comparison.

  9. "Obama’s rhetoric is notoriously short on fact, and notoriously heavy on fluff"

    In that case Patty , he’s just like Ronald Reagan, but you wouldn’t have torn apart his style would you ?

  10. Phantom is correct. He admires Lincoln, but certainly isn’t Lincoln.

    Bush was more like Lincoln, you know, hole in the head.

  11. >>Bush was more like Lincoln, you know, hole in the head.<<

    You could also say one ended his presidency with a hole in his head and the other with his head in his hole.

    Patty, I see California is now the state with the most anti-Obama, and anti practically everything else, hate groups.

    Escape from this insanity to Europe, girl!

  12. Go on Patty. Take up Noel’s offer, He’s waving his keys at you. Come over to Europe and let him fire your weary American engine up !

  13. >>it would scare the pants – I mean wits – off him.<<

    Patty, I hang out at ATW because I like to keep my wits about me.

    Speaking of which, thanks for kind comments, but joke-wise I’m afraid I’m in the ha’penny place compared to mahons.

  14. Noel: "I’m in the ha’penny place compared to mahons."

    So true. Mahons does have an inflated cents of self.

  15. Noel – don’t count yourself short, you are one of the true wits here.

    Patty – If you really want a substantive response, I agree Obama is no Lincoln, and certainly isn’t even as good as JFK, FDR or Reagan. We live in an age of less than eloquent politicans so that when one such as the current President is a decent to good speaker he seems even better tha nhe really is. But I wouldn’t sell Obama too short, he isn’t just fluff, and has an ear for the moment, and above all – we need him to be successful.

  16. "On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity."

    Wow. Not only does he shoot himself in the foot by immediately contradicting himself. But who exactly are these "Congerssional Republicans" he talks about? The USA has seen them apparently dominate for well over a decade (and Reagan before that) with unreasonable tax cuts, no fiscal restrainst (see deficit) and the monetary policies of drunken sailors.

    Who gutted which regulations?

    Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. All are guilty. Some more than others.

    Not much chance of Rove giving up his lying and revisionism, or sharp political acumen as its often called. Some people are still willing to buy his nonsense (See Patty)

  17. Mahons:"But I wouldn’t sell Obama too short"

    You think I’m just taking partisan pot shots at Obama because I’m a Conservative, or Republican — but the fact is I see Obama turning a recession into a depression with his rhetoric, and his lack of specifics.

    The market tanks more and more each day. He is not solving the problem. He is making it worse. Much worse. And my retirement savings are now slim and getting slimmer.

    I don’t expect the fed. govt to fund my retirement – by the time I’m eligible, social security will be bankrupt. But the least Obama could do is exercise some wisdom here with his rhetoric and stop exacerbating the free falling financial markets.

    He is very inexperienced. And it shows. And he better learn fast.

  18. DT

    You said who but you did not say what.

    On financials, I’m not sure that the problem was repeal of regulation. I think it was that some things ( credit default swaps for one ) were never really regulated by the Feds, the states, nor by most or all of the non US regulators.

    The other liberalizations, like the repeal of Glass Steagall Act that broke down the Chinese wall between banking and insurance and investment banking were not such a big factor IMHO

  19. Actually Daytripper, the Bush Admin. and the Repub. in COngress pushed to regulate Fannie and Freddy. If you doubt, there are youtube videos showing the hearings. Research the Community Reinvestment Act. (Clinton’s baby originally- grossly expanded under the Democrat Majority COngress after 2006.

    Barney Frank (D) and the Democrat majority in COngress pushed back – and Franny and Feddie were able to push more bad mortgage paper into the already flooded market.

  20. and above all – we need him to be successful.

    Damn right you do Mahons. Even the Fed has had to admit that all the ‘wealth’ of recent years was fake. Which leaves only the known data that all other economic indicators for the average american are in decline. Which would mean ultimately that the economy, as a whole, has infact been trickling up, and not down.

    Obama has a crisis on his hands. Namely a middle class on the brink and wealth and income gaps at their worst and widest in centuries (similar to those of the pre revolution france, to give some idea).

  21. Daytripper: And he’s decided to raise taxes. A tried and true way to exacerbate a financial downswing. Bush inherited a recession, cut taxes and the economy recovered.

    Obama through his doom and gloom talk, and his inability to outline his plan or be specific has rattled the markets, and with the tax hikes, and govt. borrowing resulting in inflation, America could finally really see depression again.

  22. Phantom, I dont entirely disagree with you.

    Patty, there is no point taking sides. they both have blood on their hands. But you should also note that the banks werent in the slightest bit concerned about the quality of the paper coming from mac and mae. Why should they care? Fanny and freddy were run as private corporations but with the added advantage of the Country holding the risk. There was also plenty of warnings from lots of corners and plenty of time to react. None of them did. And a blame game isnt going to solve it. Just line em all up, guillotine the lot and start again.

  23. Daytripper: And he’s decided to raise taxes. A tried and true way to exacerbate a financial downswing. Bush inherited a recession, cut taxes and the economy recovered.

    Greenspan (not Bush) slashed interest rates and deferred the day of reckoning. Also, if you can let us all know the % differences in your pay packet over the coming months that would also help.

  24. The left has been trying for 60 years to pull the nation as far from capitalism and the constitution as is humanely possible without causing a bloody uprising in the streets.

    This lat election gave them the perfect opportunity the scum that had called themselves republicans morphed into big government wild spenders losing the majority of their base.

    This lead to a sweep by the dems to further feed the storm The party set the Primaries up to give the nomination to a man who they believed turn it was. Never mind he couldn’t get elected dog catcher anywhere other than his home state was beside the point.

    Now enter the outside money the soros money and the true Marxist fringe of the left. People aligned with everything that is anti American that they even wouldn’t support Hillary.

    Drop instead the perfect subversive candidate a black man that speaks beautifully and has been groomed his whole life by Marxists and anti-establishment people.

    combined with a press that not only didn’t vet him but ran interference for every attempt at getting at any real information on the man.

    Don’t get me wrong Hillary would have beat McCain also but this agenda would not have been at the fore front.

    Over the next 4 years the constitutional damage will be devastating and the economy will be that of a third world nation.

    buckle up, lock and load, and start shouting like there is no tomorrow, because there may not be.

    Today two fairness doctrine bills were entered in the house of representatives.

    The internal war of words just jump to full throttle!

  25. And the yes vote in the House and Senate giving DC a rep in the House. This is expressly forbidden in the constitution. The Dems sure have brass balls.

  26. The DC voting measure is political action " by any means necessary "

    They know the Constitution well and have chosen to circumvent it.

  27. Obama’s rhetoric is notoriously short on fact, and notoriously heavy on fluff.

    But that’s exactly what rhetoric is…

  28. Captain

    Rhetoric may have soaring language which can be thought of as fluff

    But when you read the words of a Lincoln or a Churchill, they’re built on a platform of facts.

  29. I agree Obama is no Lincoln, and certainly isn’t even as good as JFK, FDR or Reagan.
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 10:54PM | mahons

    Why is FDR considered a good President? His economic policies were disastrous for the US, turning a recession into a depression. Even during WW2, he was suckered repeatedly by Stalin to Churchill’s despair.

  30. Patty – I don’t think you are attacking Obama becasue yo uare a conservative. I think your attacks show it is due to a lack of serious thought.

    Troll – Thank you for your predictions. Since you were so obviously wrong on the Presidential election it gives me hope that your bleak predictions now are just as invalid.

    Allan – You are once again mistaken. Excellent consistency.

  31. "your attacks show it is due to a lack of serious thought."

    Perhaps you could care less but the tanking of the financial markets in reaction to Obama is pretty serious to me.

  32. Colm:

    LOL. Has anyone ever seen The Phantom and The Gimp in the same room together? Didn’t think so.

  33. No Mahons. On FDR, his ‘New Deal’ failed utterly, and he was hoodwinked regularly by Stalin. Who gave away Poland?

  34. — Churchill himself had been the sponsor, if not the author, of many of the concessions on Poland"….

    That was a tough situation, bro, and the ( imperial ) Red Army had tanks and men on the ground…..

  35. Patty,

    I am amused particularly by your strawman criticism, "Mr. Obama, on the other hand, routinely ascribes to others views they don’t espouse and says opposition to his policies is grounded in views no one really advocates," when you did exactly that yesterday in claiming that Holder said Americans are racist cowards. I realize that today you’re just regurgitating Rove’s words, but still it seems just a wee bit hypocritical.

  36. I read the Rove piece. And found it superb, even on a third reading. It is in no way out of line.

    He quotes Obama as ( in Obama’s mind ) demolishing the arguments of those who say " government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." – when no Republican leader has ever said such a thing.

    Holder may not have said that Americans are "racist cowards" but he did speak of cowardice in not speaking of race ( and let’s be honest,[ their ] racism)

    Patty was close enough to being right, while Obama was 100% wrong. Even the most ardent small government guys don’t think that the government should have no role.

  37. Allan – If it wasn’t for FDR you’d be speaking German. Of course, since you are from Aberdeen, it might be easier to understand you then.

  38. Mahons,

    Ultimately true; and any contretemps he had with Winston were to do – not with F.D.R.’s agreement with Stalin – but with what was well overdue and that was the dismantlement of the British Empire….

  39. FDR at the end dealing with Stalin was a dying man whoes wits were failing him read Churchills notes.

    But even when FDR was at his full abilities he was duped by all those around him his administration was full of soviet sympathyzers and spies

  40. "Allan – If it wasn’t for FDR you’d be speaking German."

    I imagine he probably does.

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