The Corner

Obama the Banal

Discussing President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remarks in Commentary, Alana Goodman is the latest to dismantle what she calls “the myth of Obama’s rhetorical brilliance.” She observes:

For the past four years, liberals have tried to sell us on the idea that Obama is one of the greatest speakers of all time. Now they’re complaining that conservatives are taking his words literally and not cutting him enough slack. Which one is it?

Not long after his election, even some Obama supporters began to notice that his teleprompter-supported speeches were unremarkable– more  style than substance. Obviously, delivery is important, but not more so than content. Soon Obama’s familiar head swiveling, tennis- match- spectator orations became a source of amusement, if not annoyance.

Obama benefits from having a distinctive name and announcer’s voice. Thought experiment: Imagine Barack Obama’s name is Bob Smith and his voice sounds like, say, John McCain’s. Now imagine Bob Smith/Obama delivering any one of Obama’s addresses, even his celebrated 2008 speech on race.

Try not to fall asleep. 

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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