Obama Speeches Just Hollow Words
During President Obama’s first run for the White House, I labeled him the “Billy Mays of Politics”. You surely have vague recollections of the late great Mr. Mays and his high-energy, hyperbolic television commercials for OxiClean. I certainly meant no disrespect to Mr. Mays nor any of his fellow overly-caffeinated television pitchmen (ok- maybe just that ShamWow guy Vince?). My point at the time was that I sensed community organizer Obama’s speeches were just fluff and nonsense. Now into his second term, my prescient dismissal of Mr. Obama based on his oratory has sadly been proven correct.
Most recently, Obama’s huffing and puffing has not sent a chill down China’s or Russia’s collective spines over their hospitality for National Security Agency Leaker Edward Snowden. Both countries saw Obama’s “threats” for what they are, empty words from an impotent American President consistently unwilling to back up his words with actions. (See Syria, chemical weapons and “red line”) (following block quote excerpted from “Our Rhetorical President’s Unserious Speeches” By WALTER RUSSELL MEAD Wall Street Journal 7/10/13)
This isn’t the first time that the contrast between hot words and cold deeds has made this White House look bad.
These are not rookie mistakes made by a new president. Mr. Obama’s rhetorical problems—and they filter down to those who take their cues from him—reflect a flawed view of what rhetoric is and what it can do.
The president, like many products of American elite education, seems to believe that admirable sentiments eloquently expressed are good deeds well done. He was encouraged in this belief, even before winning the White House, by an enchanted press corps.
The first year of President Obama’s tenure was marked by high-profile speeches. In Cairo and Istanbul, he sought to overcome the polarization between the Muslim world and the West.
The president seems not to realize that grand sentiments in fine words do not great speeches make.
Second-rate orators use flowery language to disguise the conventionality or insincerity of their sentiments, to disguise their true motives, or—and this was the biggest problem for the White House on Syria—to substitute rhetoric for action.
You cannot be a great speaker unless you are a great doer.
At worst, as in Mr. Obama’s Cairo speech, the contrast between exalted rhetoric and mingy deeds undermines both speech and speechmaker. But even at their best, the president’s speeches often demonstrate an intellectual mastery of the subject but lack a true aim. To change that, he would do well to quit thinking of speechmaking as an act in itself and begin to think of it as the verbal expression of an action already under way. Otherwise, Mr. Obama’s speeches will continue to resemble the fireworks that lit up America’s skies last week: briefly dazzling the crowds, then fading quickly as the dark returns.
The more the President speaks the more he sullies the once-great Office of President of the United States. Perhaps more importantly, his words make our country a laughing stock even to folks we once considered allies. By “Grizzly Joe”