Neo-neocon is wondering what has happened to Obama’s vaunted fluency?
Obama was always a fluid if vapid speechmaker, although his off-the-cuff statements featured a lot of hemming and hawing. But I’ve noticed something that seems new: hesitancy even when he speaks from a prepared text.
Obama now seems to go off-teleprompter more often—perhaps because he’s been critiqued so much for its use—and when reading from notes on a lectern he stops and starts, as well as using a tennis-match-like repetitive back and forth movement of his head.
What’s more, Obama’s disfluencies have an odd cadence, coming at times that seem unnatural, as though he’s distracted and not even thinking about what he’s saying but rather merely reading it from a text he’s never seen before. Is he nervous? Lying? Nervous about lying? Nervous about being caught in lying? Aware that the gift he’s relied on his entire life is going or perhaps even gone, now that he needs it most?
You’ll want to read it all. I am so happy to see Neo refer to Obama as a “fluid but vapid” speechmaker; hosannas from the sycophantic “this-speech-will-be-carved-in-marble” press aside, I have never found Obama’s speeches to be in any way memorable or meaningful. While campaigning, Obama is able to deliver his speeches well, but can anyone recall a single inspiring line or bit of prose beyond “yes we can,” and “let me be clear”?
Because George W. Bush could be such a trial to listen to, sometimes, I got into the habit of reading his speeches, and I always came away from them impressed by how substantive they were. When I read Obama’s speeches, I find myself thinking, “just words; lots and lots of words.” And lately, they’re not even particularly polished words.
Neo may be on to something as she wonders if Obama is simply unfamiliar with the material, or disinterested, or worried. And certainly this president, for a young, athletic man, is exhibiting a worrisome lack of stamina for his job. But I suspect that Obama’s listless speechifying is betraying a restless impatience. I suspect Obama is bored with being president, and it’s not because he is too smart for the office, but because the office is too much like real work.
I suspect all he ever wanted was the campaign glory (though not the inconvenience of interrupted waffles), the adoring headlines, and the ability to pick up a phone and ask for anything he wants without hearing a “no” on the other end.
I suspect that what Obama wanted was to be the King, not the President. The King’s role is largely ceremonial. In time of national tragedy the King goes before the camera and says, “this is very sad.” If he can assign blame on a perceived enemy he does so, and then he steps aside and retires to his amusements while those actually in charge clean up the mess and determine how to prevent future messes. Everyone loves the King, defers to the King, rushes to do for the King, but the King -who tends to get bored and distracted by the dry business of actually governing- is responsible for very little, and most are just as glad of it.
If a King is on vacation and his country encounters an critical issue, he knows there is no need to come jetting back to the palace, because the Prime Minister is taking care of reality. All the King needs to do is -in a day or three- show up at a microphone in casual dress and do the PR work of expressing concern over the issue and confidence in the government. The King can command instant coverage, even if there is only time for audio.
A King does not worry, so much, about representative governance, since it is irrelevent to his standing.
Sadly, though, America is not in need of his Kingship.
America needs a good old-fashioned President:
I miss old-fashioned American presidents; flawed men who had no allusions that they were perfect. Men who (in Clinton’s case) needed to be loved too much and (in Bush’s case) didn’t need it enough, but who still, for all the personal and political mistakes, were simply trying to lead America, not to rule it, or “remake” it or “save” it from its stiff-necked, fussy, independent, generous, vulgar, valiant, dreaming, energetic, creative, preening, heroic, world-leading, free and glorious self.
Bring back the flawed human president who we were free to love or hate without reserve, fear or condemnation, because the target was strong enough to take it. The president who could sometimes be petty but sometimes be pretty damned gracious, too. The president who could make a mistake at a doorway and laugh about it, and whom the press did not have to protect from the passing mockery such a mistake would bring.
I miss having an American President who could describe himself – as Clinton once did – as “a punching clown; you punch me and I’m bounce right back up and into your face;” or a president who could, with ironic self awareness describe himself as “misunderestimated.” America needs a guy who can laugh at himself and take the nation’s chaffing with a shrug, instead of a godling of the press’ needy creation, one “too perfect to be mocked”.
So, we have a King. But we haven’t a Prime Minister. Mrs. Pelosi won’t do, nor will Mr. Reid. We need a president.
Vanderleun: The Emperor’s New Speech Impediment
DO listen to Obama’s audio statement. It is rushed -in some places he is reading so quickly he is almost slurring his words- and perfunctory-sounding. He is saying what needs to be said, but in a very pissed off, I-am-saying-these-things-because-it-is-getting-hot-and-I-must-say-them-now-let-me-get-back-to-my-waffle-damnyouall tone. Very reassuring.
UPDATE II: Krauthammer not having any of what Obama was selling yesterday. Interested in hearing what he has to say about today’s audio.
Dick Cheney: Not having any