Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Way

As popular rhetoric, Obama's speech was a disaster. It was intellectually dense, harshly confrontational and very bleak. It provoked few tears and not that much applause. People were, I think, I disappointed. This, of course, is why I liked it so much. Now free of the requirements of the campaign, he's clearly chosen to lay it on the line, to be serious. He spoke rapidly and purposefully, paying little heed to the easy dramatic effects that signal condescension and contempt. I know of no British politician who would be capable of doing this. Let's all go to serious America and leave clown Brown to rule over the land laid waste by his banker friends

21 comments:

  1. Well yes, I agree. It actually seemed like he was speaking to adults. How odd.

    I think it's also clear that he was trying to tell us that we are in quite a bit deeper doo-doo than we might have been thinking or hoping.

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  2. Interesting. Did you see the piece in the FT a couple of days ago that posited that Obama's speeches in fact stick rigidly to the rules of rhetoric laid down in Ancien Greece? Its a fascinating analysis. Aristotle would have approved of every word, stylistically.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/acef9222-e35a-11dd-a5cf-0000779fd2ac.html

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  3. You will have one hell of a job selling the idea of labour bankers.

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  4. Well, I can think of a few British politicians who would be quite capable of delivering a disappointing speech.

    As for seriousness, do you know I was impressed by Vince Cable on Desert Island Discs this week. Bring on the Lib Dems (and I never thought I'd say that).

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  5. Someone who once coached me in things these told me it is much easier to make a speech to a large, expectant audience than to a small group. The Obamania that infected all our news channels was brilliantly undermined by the man himself with this speech. I've been sceptical of the faith placed in him - but this signals to me an operator who much shrewder and cleverer than I'd credited.

    His performance reminded me of a great quote that I can't trace which says if the people got good government they wouldn't like it very much. This guy could be very interesting indeed. And, as ever, may God Bless the United States of America.

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  6. "Let's all go to serious America and leave clown Brown to rule over the land laid waste by his banker friends. "

    Right on! Thank heavens 'serious America' has so utterly avoided the depredations of the bankers!

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  7. I thought, he's socking it to 'em, sounds like he means business then I saw Hillary sitting behind him looking like a clapped out dragon. New tap, same boiler, and went back to gardening.
    Don't expect much, cousins across the water.

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  8. Well, Obama is his own man and under no obligation to suck up to special interests. A British politician would have had to defer either to the Brothers or to the poisonous old ladies of either sex who bankrolled him. I, for one, welcome our new overlord of sober and serious purpose! A speech full of bubblegum and soundbites would have sunk the lot of us. I guess the only test is time, so see how this speech reads in a year or two. And, let's not forget, for his purpose to succeed Obama does also have to connect with the millions of Americans who did not vote for him.

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  9. I liked his speech, too. It was the first time I'd seen him on TV - previously had just read about him in the papers. I was impressed with his sober lack of rhetoric, and determination, as well as admission of various self-evident truths not usually admitted to by people in charge (eg the current British lot who keep saying all is OK then having to do hasty things when clearly it isn't). What's happening to all those ex-heads of Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley, RBS etc who have retired with their golden payoffs etc, by the way? Why don't they have to pay it back?

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  10. I was impressed when President Obama said something along the lines of "we will reject as false the choice between our safety and out ideals" How refreshing, after the past few years of relentless scaremongering from politicians, this side of the pond too from the likes of Jacqui "anti-terror" Smith.

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  11. Too right. He should get rid of that ridiculous terror alert colour code system for a start.

    In Florida last year the breakfast TV news kept insisting on telling us that today the homeland security terror alert had been raised to orange or whatever. Presumably so that we could be slightly more scared of Muslims than we were yesterday.

    Thank God we're not that 'serious' here.

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  12. Have you noticed Obama seems to have aged at least five years since he became Pres Elect - presumably because they've told him how things are... I thought those inaugural prayers were very fine - and almost as long as the speech. No idea what Aretha thought she was doing to that blameless song...

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  13. "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers." That's got to be a first from a US Pres. Good on him.

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  14. He has a habit of laying it on the line, his speech to the press when he dumped rev.Wright and told African/Americans (whatever that is theses days) some home truths, comes to mind.

    The fact is he sees the intelligence, and if his call is wrong on it, then its ex-president Obama....it a tough job.

    I was at the sauna in the gym yesterday afternoon,listening in to some young "asian" guys talking,I used to live in the Gulf so I can follow a bit of arabic. they tend to use it amongst themselves so others dont hear what bile they say.

    "khinzeer" came up a lot with reference to Bam, or Swine. "kalb" also a lot or dog, which is an animal they see as dirty. And these are middle class young men living and born here in the UK.

    Make no mistake their hatred for Bam is greater than Dubbya, he they think should be one of them, its one thing a white guy slamming Islamist dogma, its another a coloured guy. And Islamist supremacist dogma runs strong though the general Muslim and Arab world and population especially young males.

    As OBL said a week before 9/11, "America is a weak horse" they think Bam is a weak man. We have come full circle.

    Its going to be interesting but I am not optimistic.

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  15. Just been reading the speech in full here.

    It is startlingly good.

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  16. most chilling comments imaginable, passer by

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  17. I did not listen to Obama's inauguration speech, so I cannot t comment. I chose to watch Frasier instead. But I'm sure, the laughs would have been no less. Let alone the loopy philippics about purpose, pride and principles? It's the old business of the lowest common denominator. Nor is there any reason to think that his speech was not commissioned from a twenty-seven year old college hack (as reported in the News) or approved by a college of hacks. It is part of the show, however, to make a pretence, even though, personally - much like yourselves -I find no argument for the existence of the universal benevolence and virtue of the United States of America in the fact that Obama never even conceived of such trash in the first place!

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  18. If he's intelligent that's good. Unless an intelligent man is driven insane or close to insanity, it is not in his interests to f*ck the world up too much.
    And passer by, from having known and consorted with British Muslims, yes they are terrifically...unpolitically correct, in ways even i find disconcerting, and i am an elberry.

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  19. Haven't read the speech, but this line popped out at another blog:

    "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

    I did not vote for Obama. I have not liked the man, but want him to succeed, for our country's sake.

    This is an amazingly honest statement (because he agrees with me ;) ). If he can cash the check his mouth just wrote, I can vote for him next time, happily.

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  20. I've grown up with and know a few young muslims who are perfectly normal. Although, one does work in a bank. It's usually members of my own race that cause most problems, not muslims.

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  21. In The Audacity of Hope Obama writes: "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." I think it wise to avoid such projections.

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