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The President’s Speech



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I know, I know, if you can’t blog anything real nice it’s better not to blog at all, that’s my advice. Nevertheless:

Personally, I would have liked bin Laden’s death to have been announced by whatever lowest-level official was manning the night desk at the Department of Nondescript Bureaucrats, preferably reading it off the back of an envelope. But, if you’re going to put the head of state on TV to announce it himself, it would have been better to have been all brisk and businesslike — “At 0800 hours American military assets entered an address at 27b Jihadist Gardens, etc” — and finish off with a bit of Churchillian sober uplift about it not being the end or the beginning of the end but maybe the end of the beginning.

Instead, as Stephen Hunter, the novelist and Washington Post film critic, writes:

Any joy one might feel in the intelligence of our analysts and the bravery of our door kickers was significantly diminished by Obama’s malignant narcissism. The first part of the announcement, evoking 9/11, was vulgarly overwritten as per Obama’s view of himself as some kind of gifted orator. The adjective bloated compote was unworthy of the subject, banal and self-indulgent.

I was, I confess, a little stunned by the first part of the president’s speech. It was, as Mr. Hunter says, overwritten. It managed to be both overwrought and generic — all that telepromptered overload about cloudless Tuesday mornings was not only tackily over-prettified but came over as unfelt and hand-me-down, like a course exercise in some third-rate creative-writing school’s Soaring Oratory class. Or, at any rate, as if they’d loaded up a first draft of September’s tenth anniversary speech into the machine. The official announcement was delayed for all this? If ever there was a moment for the commander-in-chief to be real, plainspoken and off his glassy-eyed follow-the-bouncing-ball routine, this was it. It’s as if nobody around him knows how to write except in the one tinny key.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to rally round the flag, and rally round the president, but rally round this speech? No thanks.
 



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