Lv 7
DAR asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 1 decade ago

What do you think of this take on the State of the Union address?

" As to the content, I think there are several broad stylistic problems that, cumulatively, lead to a bigger one, identified by (of all people) The New York Times's Bob Herbert:

Mr Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted.

Why is that? Well, look at the SOTU opening. It's eloquent, but in a cheesily generic way, as if one of his speechwriters was sent over to Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy of State of the Unions for Dummies:

They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It’s tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable — that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil-rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people.

It sounds like an all-purpose speech for President Anyone: We've met here in good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and depression, Shrove Tuesday and Super Bowl Sunday, riding high in April, shot down in May. We've been up and down and over and out and I know one thing. Each time we find ourselves flat on our face, we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. That's life, pause for applause . . .

There's no sense that, even as platitudinous filler, it arises organically from who this man is. As mawkish and shameless as the Clinton SOTUs were, they nevertheless projected a kind of authenticity. With Obama, the big-picture uplift seems unmoored from any personal connection — and he's not good enough to make it real. Same with all those municipal name-checks.

When he does say anything firm and declarative — the pro-business stuff at home, the pro-freedom stuff abroad — it's entirely detached from any policy, any action, so it plays to the Bob Herbert trust issue. And, when he moves from the gaseous and general to the specific, he becomes petty and and thin-skinned and unpresidential. And, unlike the national security feints and 101 Historical Allusions For Public Speakers stuff, the petulance is all too obviously real.

So I think the Churchill/Lincoln/Henry V-at-Agincourt de nos jours is a total flopperoo, and Obama would do well to hire some writers who can create for him a plausible voice — not for my sake but for all the Bob Herberts and disillusioned Obama Girls out there. "



It seems to say that the soaring parts of the speech are devoid of reality, and the real parts of the speech are unattractive.

Would you agree with that?

Update 2:

In clarification only: " Mr Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted. " came from Herbert at the NYT. The rest is the article I linked, commenting on that statement.

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It's a fair assessment. The speech was to say the least...cheesy. That said, normally speech writers have a couple of months to craft a SOTU speech. With what happened in Ma. when Brown was elected to a seat held by "The Hero of Chappaquiddick" for 46 years the game was instantly changed. They had about a week to slap together the mess we saw last night...and a mess it was too. Between the vague promises to the castigations of Congress and Bush there was nothing new here. You didn't have to be Kreskin to know what was coming. 1 surprise was the President going after the High Court. He was on the verge of interfering in the Judiciary for a moment there.

    I was also watching the background and for some strange reason I kept hearing the song "Pop goes the Weasel" every time I looked at Pelosi. Funny how that happened...

  • R J
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    He is a campaigner and is still campaigning. Today he goes out and gives a speech. Think of all the gas that was burned to get those people there, when they should have ben looking for a job. They should do like Letterman and Leno and have him up there and do canned applause and laughs.

    He thinks the American people will believe all that junk. Actions are what we expect. With still 2/3rds of the stimulus money stilling drawing dust it is a shame. That money may only create half a million jobs for 18-24 months, but it would be a tremendous shot tin the arm. The people would not be n unemployment, be able to pay mortgages and also contribute t their community and increase jobs that way. This administration is out of touch with reality.

    I have said a zillions times he needs someone else to be his publicist. It's like the old communists speeches that everything is ok or bad for a reason when the top brass was well fed and happy and people were starving.

    This person made a good assessment and could have just called him a campaigner. as far as the campaign money for commercials, what's the big deal when you consider he said he would address the lobbyists. they gave $3.2 billion in 2008 and $3.7 billion in 2009. that money is a lot more dangerous as the House and senate members can use it to run for office again and employ family members. It also makes it tough for someone running against them as they need big time cash and will then be in someones back pocket also.

    As far as commercials you have reach and frequency. If you have ever seen the car dealers run a million commercials on the weekend, it's a waste of money as you can run all you want, but you will only reach about 70% of the viewers. That reach is how many homes that will see it and the frequency or how many times they see it is lost after three exposures.

    The president needs to show results and get another person to write the speeches and stop blaming everyone else. As far as a train Newark and new York could use one for the flights and workers, but that might be it as it costs about $95 to get a shuttle from New York to the airport in New Jersey.

    They all better wake up as we are tired of RINOS and DINOs and now a president that wants everyone to think that over night he is a CINO. Ha, ha.

    this article is a nice way of saying "where's the beef". Take care.

    Source(s): *opensecrets.org
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I read the transcript last night, trying not to laugh out loud...

    ...but when I got the the part about Black Tuesday and Bloody Sunday, I lost it!

    This speech is the most fake, empty, shameless, plastic Hollywood BS I have ever heard come out of Obama's mouth!

    The writers probably think they're geniuses too. This is a message for them: You're not f***ing Earnest Hemingway. Better keep your job at 7-11.

  • 1 decade ago

    Nice take.

    Very good digested insight from the writer.

    It is true that anything that does not come from the heart can be seen as exactly that- did not come from the heart. It comes out contrived, fake and successfully results in a response of " are you done yet? " while the people's collective fingers are drumming steadily on the remote control wanting to change the channel already even before the potus started his speech.,

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I'll probably turn it on a half hour after it starts after all the applause is over. Then I'll plan on watching the whole thing, but I'll probably change the channel after 5 minutes of listening his bullshit.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think he (they) know this. I think this is an effort to make politics exclusive and impersonal. It is an effort in doublethink. His rhetoric soars in a comical and ridiculous manner, but is perfectly devoid of meaning. Obama likes dissonance, because it allows people to think what they want to think. His manner says that he is a very bright guy, his body english says that he is in charge, but the meaning of his words shows he is guessing and bewildered.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Wow.........that was spot on.

    "Mr Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted."

    Could not have said it better.

  • jz
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago


    i especially like that reference to the song "that's life".

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