I’m posting the streams from MR’s Twitter and Facebook pages at the top, and then after the jump I’ve added a bit of context for these, plus a few other thematically relevant links. The full speech is here.
If you’re a conservative the speech was good, then not good, then good again, then not good again, then you’d be ambivalent, then good, not good, not good, good. If you’re a liberal it was bad, then not bad, then bad again, then not bad again, then you’d be ambivalent, then bad, not bad, not bad, bad.
If you’re someone who thinks that even ostensibly balanced and abstract speeches should have some kind of structure, with implicitly defined sections that clarify central values and themes, then this was not the best speech, no:
* Final thoughts on Obama speech: good parts and bad parts but oh-so-rambling. Failure of me and my discipline: http://bit.ly/7oq2Oj #tcot
* Typo: “Truths: war is sometimes necessary, and war is… an expression of human feelings” He meant “failings” #tcot #irony #totus
* Obama: “I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.” Keep in mind this is after the passage about being “humble”
* “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war.” Thanks for clearing that up. #ffs #tcot
* Obama Nobel reax (1) Too much wiki-based pontification (2) Unusual sent struct is hackish not deep (3) VDH is going to have kittens #tcot
(1) The 38 uses of the word “I” may or may not be justified in an acceptance speech, but any sentence that begins with “I am living testimony” had better involve either a gulag, a disability, or a parody of someone who would say that without having survived a gulag or overcome a disability. Typical.
(2) The snarky little contrast between Iraq (“winding down”) and Afghanistan (“a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries”) is unseemly and hypocritical. It’s unseemly to the extent that, even in the best case, it merely airs dirty American laundry on the global stage. It’s hypocritical because his entire ethos is “don’t think you can trash my country by giving me this prize.” Typical. As a bonus it also insults the the allies that fought alongside us in Iraq, which is also typical.
(3) A speech should be limited to a maximum of, say, two “on the one hand, on the other hand” passages. I can’t really blame the President or his speech writers – per that final tweet, this is a pedagogical failure on the part of Speech and Composition teachers. But nonetheless – by the middle – there’s already this undeniable leaden feeling of rambling incoherence.
And what the hell are musings about NATO coalition agreements doing in an epideictic speech about the grand sweep of perpetual peace as it relates to the metaphysical limitations of Reason? It’s the equivalent of talking about highway bloc grants in the State of the Union. Which I guess Presidents also do now. Which gets us back to the people who are supposed to teach other people how to speak.
(4) The sentence “so part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings” is a monument of muddled pseudo-sophistication. First, I’m pretty sure he meant “failings.” Well done TOTUS. Second, those aren’t irreconcilable at all. They’re not even in tension. I know it’s a lot of fun for Obama to pretend he’s a super-keen Vulcan Socrates, mercilessly dissecting abstractions until their incommensurable essences are – in an unprecedented intellectual achievement – explicitly articulated and brought into dialogue with each other. But this is banal.
“So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths – that eating is sometimes necessary, and eating is at some level an expression of human failings.” Here’s a cheat sheet: if the first thing is an inevitable consequence of the second thing, then that’s not a place you should use the word “irreconcilable.”
Unless you believe in the perfectibility of humans, a common undertone in the campaigns of populists who urge organic “unity” around a charismatic leader who recites vague banalities about “change,” allowing his followers to project utopian aspirations onto him. Hmm.
* Text of Barack Obama Nobel Prize acceptance speech [LAT Blog]
* Mere Rhetoric [Facebook]
* Mere Rhetoric [Twitter]
* Dispositio – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [Dispositio]
* West Point Speech – Rhetorically Sublime Modern Day Lincoln Said “I” 40+ Times, “Win” Or “Victory” 0 [MR]
* Krauthammer: Obama attacks on Bush “disgusting” [Hot Air]
* Democrats Partying Like It’s 2004, Insulting the Sacrifice Of Coalition of the Willing [MR]
* Obama the mortal [Milbank / WaPo]