It’s somewhere over 40 – MS Word is telling me 41, Charlie Foxtrot has it at 45 – but honestly I lost count in that section where he dropped “I” 15 times in less than 3 paragraphs. My eyes just kind of glazed over:
But there was too much “I” in the speech. George H.W. Bush famously took the word “I” out of his speeches… because of a horror of appearing to be calling attention to himself. Mr. Obama is plagued with no such fears. “When I took office… I approved a long-standing request… After consultations with our allies I then.. I set a goal.” That’s all from one paragraph. Further down he used the word “I” in three paragraphs an impressive 15 times. “I believe I know” “I have signed” “I have read” “I have visited.”… About two-thirds of the way through, the speech degenerated into the faux eloquence that makes people listening across our nation want to gouge out their eyes and run screaming from the room. Lots of our children and our children’s children, the dark clouds of tyranny, the light of freedom. Our strength comes from “the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home…”
You really have to wonder where The One got his reputation for peerless eloquence. It shouldn’t have been the race speech, which objectively sucked. It wasn’t the Berlin speech, since not even a sycophant could be inspired by the hackneyed infrastructure motif. It’s not the Inaugural, which was so filled with treacly pompousness that the left resorted to insisting he spoke poorly on purpose.
And as an empirical matter it wasn’t anything afterward. By March even deep blue outlets were admitting that “pundits are questioning Obama’s ability to communicate.”
This goes beyond the myriad teleprompter issues and the chronic inability to speak casually without resorting to grating cliches. It really is this juxtaposition between limitless self-declared grandiosity and increasingly obvious shallowness. In his Sermon To The Children that jarring contrast was forced – the President of the United States promising to roof schoolhouses and manage textbook inventories.
But by now the ethos of empty blustering has become all but pervasive. After so many Historical Speeches and Responsibility Summits, his ritualistic evocation of sweeping visuals and overwrought metaphors end up sounding – TNR’s language, not mine – like so much gasbaggery. And when he’s not preaching about his own splendor he’s overcompensating for the growing impression that he’s a beta male. The effect might merely be a consistent and comical – and comical because it’s consistent – throwback to Bush. Except it’s also disingenuous and unpersuasive:
I have come to the conclusion that the real reason this gifted communicator has become so bad at communicating is that he doesn’t really believe a word that he is saying. He couldn’t convey that health-care reform would be somehow cost-free because he knows it won’t be. And he can’t adequately convey either the imperatives or the military strategy of the war in Afghanistan because he doesn’t really believe in it either… Obama all but held his nose as he delivered those words — “bring this war to a successful conclusion” — and never once mentioned the word “win”… I felt I was being told some Nordic myth from ancient times: Four score years ago and ten, fiery planes set out for the prosperous, peace-loving climes of the United States of America! And then, there was war. There was much war, and it was covered in a great fog, and it lasted unto eternity.
In fairness, I actually think that worshipful hosannas to Obama’s rhetorical majesty have more to do with a widespread inability to distinguish genuine eloquence from turgid crap. But let’s not totally abandon “his cultists swoon in ecstacy to his Holy Writ as delivered from On High.” We’ve still got to account for Chris Matthews.
References and related after the jump…
* Obama Afghanistan Speech Word Count [Charlie Foxtrot]
* Obama Redeclares War [Noonan / WSJ]
* Hitchens: If Obama’s race speech was so memorable, try quoting one line from it [Hot Air]
* Christ appears in Berlin, uses lots of “wall” metaphors; Update: “Goonies” video added [Hot Air]
* The Conservative Revolutionary [Gersen / WaPo]
* Figures: Obama’s List Of Pre-Screened Questioners Emerges One Day After Media Celebrations Of How Obama Doesn’t Pre-Screen Questioners (Plus: It’s Possible That The MSM Is Making Up Excuses For Their Obama Worship) [MR]
* Obama takes a hit from CBO [SF Gate]
* We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate… [Discriminations]
* Barack Obama Is a Terrible Bore [Wolff]
* Obama’s Speech to The Children [Secular Right]
* Video: Obama ready to talk this economy back to life, baby; Update: Speech on the economy coming next week [Hot Air]
* So Much Gasbaggery, So Little Time [TNR]
* Did We Elect a Beta Male As President? [Lewis / American Thinker]
* Video: Jon Stewart Compares Similarity Of Bush/Obama Speeches [Daled Amos]
* Video: Jon Stewart sees something familiar in Obama speech [Hot Air]
* Obama’s Fog of War [Daily Beast]
* Breaking news: Official Chris Matthews leg thrill reported [Hot Air]