Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Joe Klein on Obama’s speech

with one comment

Joe Klein in TIME:

Let it be recorded that Barack Obama came into full possession of the U.S. presidency toward the end of his February 24 budget speech to a joint session of Congress. He had just read a letter from a South Carolina schoolgirl, pleading for help with her dilapidated school. "We are not quitters," the girl had written. The President’s eyes brightened as he repeated that phrase, and he seemed barely able to control his joy and confidence as he attacked his peroration: that even in the toughest times, "there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency and a determination that perseveres." This was the chord that had been missing in the first dour month of Obama’s presidency — not so much optimism as confidence, the sense that he was not only steering the presidency, but loving the challenge of it. It was the quality that distinguished Franklin Roosevelt’s public persona, guided by the motto that F.D.R. had in his office: "Let unconquerable gladness dwell." (See the 10 greatest speeches of all time.)

The modern presidency is a vast electronic synthesizer, capable of exhilarating musical effects or rank cacophony. The President needs to be able to throw his voice in a variety of ways — now sober, now soaring, now educating, now soothing. George W. Bush’s presidency was straitjacketed by his inability to command any style but clenched orotundity. The two great television-era communicators in the office were yin and yang: Bill Clinton was a master of the conversational, not so good at set-piece speeches; Ronald Reagan just the opposite. Barack Obama has now demonstrated an ability to synthesize those two…

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Written by Leisureguy

27 February 2009 at 12:12 pm

One Response

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  1. orotundity–what a perfect description!

    Like

    constant reader

    27 February 2009 at 6:53 pm


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