At least he can still give a great speech (plus open thread)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 · 46 Comments »

The Blogger Boys are getting themselves all worked up again about what really matters: The Best Speech Obama’s Given Since…Maybe Ever. I know, you’re thinking the headline is snark, right? Nope.

Marc Ambinder, who really needs to get a room:

Today, at Ft. Hood. I guarantee: they’ll be teaching this one in rhetoric classes. It was that good. My gloss won’t do it justice. Yes, I’m having a Chris Matthews-chill-running-up-my-leg moment, but sometimes, the man, the moment and the words come together and meet the challenge.

See, for me, the man+moment+words=thrill equation kind of falls apart once you know that “the man” in question is about as sincere as a can of aerosol cheese. But that’s just me. The Blogger Boys are obviously on a different wavelength. They don’t want a president; they want a spiritual guru.

Ambinder again:

Obama had to lead a nation’s grieving; he had to try and address the thorny issues of Islam and terrorism; to be firm; to express the spirit of America, using familiar, comforting tropes in a way that didn’t sound trite.

Lead a nation’s grieving? Familiar, comforting tropes? What is he, our fricking youth pastor?

(This is a also an open thread if you want to talk about anything other than healthcare reform, which is here.)

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46 Responses to “At least he can still give a great speech (plus open thread)”

  1. myiq2xu says:

    I saw that post by Ambinder. Jeez, that’s embarrassing.

  2. Violet says:

    Ambinder is frequently embarrassing. Especially when he’s nursing one of his crushes.

    His comments on Ross Douthat’s move to the Times were so over-the-top that it took me awhile to decide if he was kidding or not.

  3. Honora says:

    Please don’t make me listen to another of O’s “Best Ever Speeches”, they make me sick and healthcare is dicey right now.

  4. angie says:

    Ronald Regan gave some great speeches too — I’m sure the blogger boyz are too young to remember, but Regan’s eulogy after the Challenger crash (“they kissed the face of God”) can still bring tears to my eyes. But guess what? He was still an a–hole.

    And that goes double for Obama.

    But I understand why they are so super-duper excited over this, the latest in a long line of bestest.speeches.ever. Given Obama’s actual accomplishments thus far (Gitmo — still open; Iraq & Afghanistan — still going on; extraordinary rendition & torture — still happening; warrentless wiretapes — more than ever; women as chattel — you betcha! gays — still hate ‘em) a “great speech” is all they have to hold on to.

  5. myiq2xu says:

    ”they kissed the face of God”

    As soon as you mentioned Reagan I thought of that eulogy.

  6. Cyn says:

    Oh, Pullezze! That Little Jon Favroe {or whatever his 15 minutes of fame name was} probably wrote the speech on a prescription pad donated to the administration by Big Pharma on his way to a holiday to at a co-ed college where he will try to dazzle all fourth wave gals and Obama simply read it from his Teleprompter. Haltingly.

  7. Violet says:

    I couldn’t stand to listen to any of Reagan’s speeches. He was such a phony. Just plain bad acting.

  8. myiq2xu says:

    I couldn’t stand to listen to any of Reagan’s speeches. He was such a phony. Just plain bad acting.

    Like father, like son?

  9. Adrienne in CA says:

    Actually, it was “…slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god.

    And yes, I wept as I cursed that POS.


  10. gxm17 says:

    …They don’t want a president; they want a spiritual guru.

    Obama as a spiritual guru is a truly frightening concept. The man has no moral center. The Blogger Boys are most definitely on a different (and dangerous) wavelength: The Sociopath Path.

  11. Violet says:

    Actually, it was “…slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of god.

    Wait a minute; Reagan quoted “High Flight”? This fantastic piece of oratory you guys are talking about was just a quote from “High Flight?”

    This makes me laugh. When I was a kid in California, one of our local TV stations signed off every night with a slide show of Air Force images and a voiceover dramatic reading of “High Flight.” I have slipped the surly bonds…

  12. Was it good for you too? « The Confluence says:

    [...] need a cigarette? As Violet Socks said: See, for me, the man+moment+words=thrill equation kind of falls apart once you know that [...]

  13. Adrienne in CA says:

    I see he managed to make the woman hero of this story disappear.

    One young soldier, Amber Bahr, was so intent on helping others that she did not realize for some time that she, herself, had been shot in the back. Two police officers – Mark Todd and Kim Munley – saved countless lives by risking their own. One medic – Francisco de la Serna – treated both Officer Munley and the gunman who shot her.

    Suddenly, we have an Officer Mark Todd saving the day.


  14. angie says:

    Adrienne!! That’s it! “Touch” not “kiss!” God, it was even more beautiful than I remember! But in my defense I was just a little wisp o’ a girl when it happened.

    Still, it was a great speech.

  15. angie says:

    Violet — from “High Flight” or not, it was beautiful. Yes, I was just a little girl (grammar school, 4th or 5th grade) & although I don’t remember the actual words perfectly, I remember the feeling I got hearing it. When I grew up & realized exactly what kind of SOB Regan was, I still had a soft-spot for him for that speech. BUT, as I grew up I realized that words didn’t matter as much as actions. Whenever I hear the blogger boyz swooning over Obama’s latest speech I think of Eliza Doolittle singing “Don’t tell me you love me, show me.”

  16. lambert strether says:

    Paper towel, Marc?

  17. myiq2xu says:

    In 40+ years of being a political junkie I’ve seen lots of good speeches. Some real, some Hollywood, some both (Reagan)

    Great speeches mean nothing. Electing someone just because they gave a great speech is stupid.

    It would make more sense to elect a great speech writer.

  18. madamab says:

    Oh please. Anyone can write one of Obama’s speeches. Just take a JFK speech, a Reagan speech, some Mad Libs and a thesaurus, and throw them all into a blender. Then, have a guy with a nice, rolling baritone read the result. It would make just as much sense and probably be a little more believable.

  19. Honora says:

    I don’t think Favreau is old enough to be president. Thank God.

  20. Pacific John says:

    Wow, Violet! I’d completely forgotten that! I’ll mentally file that with Hobo Kelly and Sheriff John.

    But that is classic Reagan, creating his own reality from SoCal cultural idioms. Remember the Reagan story he dreamed up about a Medal of Honor recipient who only existed in a movie?

  21. bygones says:

    A sure bet that when Obama sneezes there are flunkies waiting around to rate each one as “his best”!

    For them, the mere thought of Obama making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is enough to bring out the praise and applause machine as each effort is deemed “special”.

    When will this morons get over the mancrush? Most are beginning to sound like Andrew Sullivan.

  22. m Andrea says:

    The Bush Believers didn’t really get over their infatuation with him until the last couple years of his presidency. And most of them just got sorta quiet and lethargic.

    Which would be a strategic time to slip something past them, when they are demoralized.

  23. Keri says:

    I heard a clip of Obama’s speech today and my reaction was- “it sounds just like something Bush 2 would say, with the same verbal fumbling and even less emotion” He usually sounds that way to me though, I find him completely unimpressive as a speechmaker, even with a teleprompter.

    Hillary though, even when put on the spot and having to give a quick answer, always speaks with passion and intelligence. Hillary’s words can touch my heart and fire up my feminist drive. When she fights for something, she fights with passion.

  24. Adrienne in CA says:

    For all the Half The Sky fans, author Nicholas Kristoff is prepared to throw half the people under the bus.


  25. Swannie says:

    I am with madaman on this one … I had the DISTINCT feeling someone googled armed forces condolences speeches and copied and pasted phrases in that speech .and he had to use the the ever present president-prompter. I didn’t think the speech was that great … maybe when he got lost in his own “lofty phrases” And I had yet another distinct feeling that he was thinking to himself ; ” I better leave out the purple mountains majesty bit, that might be too much ” pffft

    and as for Kristoff; that is a damned damned shame . how can anyone write a book about how compartmentalising women and their health care in any society is the downfall of that society ; and then compartmentalise women when it comes to their health care …???… in this society??

  26. madaha says:

    this on the day we hear he’s decided to send 40,000 more soldiers (though maybe gradually) to Afghanistan? whotta hypocrite.

  27. octogalore says:

    “the man, the moment and the words come together and meet the challenge”

    Pathetic. Kimberley Munley met the challenge; Obama only talked about it (without giving her much billing — she is female, after all).

    Ambinder seems to have forgotten that Obama’s first press conference about Fort Hood was remarkably insensitive and disrespectful. He launched with a laughing shout-out to assembled bureaucrats. He is basically tone-deaf. This time, he got up and read a speech somebody else wrote over a teleprompter. For that skill level, we could have elected Jon Hamm.

  28. angie says:

    Adrienne — thanks for the heads up. I was going to buy Half the Sky this weekend; now, I’d rather burn the money then give him even a nickel of royalty $$.

  29. sharmajee says:

    That ‘touch the face of God’ speech – it made Peggy Noonan world famous, actually – helped a million people cry that day. No event, between Kennedy killing and 9/11, matched the collective national pathos of the Challenger disaster. And, Reagan was up to the task of consoling a heart-broken nation. No president has since come to match that sort of graceful expression of grief.

    Unlike other killing sprees, murder at a military base actually called for immediate Presidential response. By that measure Obama already failed. His going there this late reminded me … sort of Bush flying over NOLA.

  30. Violet says:

    Ronald Reagan was a stupid, evil old man.

  31. Hedgepig says:

    How’s your finger, Violet?

  32. Violet says:

    It’s good! Thanks for asking.

  33. Patti says:

    On Friday, the day after the massacre, W and Laura drove to Ft Hood, 30 miles from their home, to visit the wounded at the Army Med Ctr. At the risk of being stoned, I thought it was a thoughtful gesture, as they made the trip without fanfare. And no, I’m not a W fan.

  34. Marsha says:

    “Reagan was quoting `High Flight,’ a sonnet written by John Gillespie Magee, a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. He came to Britain, flew in a Spitfire squadron, and was killed at the age of nineteen on 11 December 1941 during a training flight from the airfield near Scopwick.”

  35. Marsha says:

    Here’s the longer version. And my teevee stations also ended the day with the same quote…spoken over a picture of the American flag.

    “Oh I Have Slipped
    The Surly Bonds of Earth…
    Put Out My Hand
    And Touched the Face of God”

  36. helenk says:

    I never understood why they always called Reagan the ” great communicator” he would make a speech and then ten people would be on tv telling you what he really meant.
    Backtrack can read and maybe memorize but he has no sense of what the words mean. Therefore he is a lousy speaker.



  37. Linden says:

    Kristof’s always been a tool. I give him props for advancing his worldview on the challenges faced by Third World women; he’s come far since those days when he thought all he had to do to improve the lot of Thai prostitutes was buy a few and set them loose. But he uses his shiny new worldview as a stick to beat Western strawfeminists. His concern for women’s rights has more to do with his own egocentrism than any coherent understanding of women’s oppression.

  38. DancingOpossum says:

    “For that skill level, we could have elected Jon Hamm.”

    Hell of a lot prettier to look at, too.

  39. SweetSue says:

    Wait, we could have elected Jon Hamm?
    Yes, it was nice of the Bushes to visit the wounded soldiers, and it would have been really nice if they had made those visits while actually President and First Lady.

  40. Violet says:

    Backtrack can read and maybe memorize but he has no sense of what the words mean.

    Do you really mean that you don’t think Barack Obama understands what he’s saying? That’s a bit much, don’t you think? It’s one thing to criticize him politically; it’s another to suggest he’s mentally defective.

  41. Sameol says:

    Don Draper is a horrible husband, but he’s shown some sensitivity to the plight of Peggy and Sal; we’d probably be better off even with Jon Hamm’s fictional alter ego.

    I don’t think he’s mentally defective, but I do think he can’t be bothered to know what he’s talking about, simply because his supporters don’t care one way or the other. Even Bush would attempt to press ahead when the TelePrompTer went out on a speech he’d read 1000 times; Obama will stop and not resume until it’s fixed. That time he was sent the wrong speech, he read it and never noticed the difference.

  42. Patti says:

    SweetSue, I do believe the Bushes made visits to bases and hospitals while he was President. I don’t think they were as publicized as Obama’s. Please don’t make me defend Bush again. Ugh.

  43. Nessum says:

    Backtrack can read and maybe memorize but he has no sense of what the words mean.

    I would agree that in the moment, while he is reading, the words don’t mean much to him! He has to concentrate so hard on the cadence, the sound, the pauses — just reading!

    I’ve never seen him express any emotion that related to the words. (But then, I’d rather not neither watch nor listen!)

  44. octogalore says:

    I think it’s the fact that Obama is clearly *not* mentally defective that makes the dissonance between his speeches and his actions possible. Obama’s extremely intelligent, and he remarked in his law review days that he had the gift of saying things that appeared to be agreeing with multiple sides. It’s that chameleonic ability that makes me wonder where the real substance is, where the loyalties lie, and whether in fact they lie primarily within.

  45. Sandra, CA says:

    Violet says, “Do you really mean that you don’t think Barack Obama understands what he’s saying?” in response to this comment:

    “Backtrack can read and maybe memorize but he has no sense of what the words mean.”

    I agree that he has no understanding of the words. He has no emotional understanding. The words mean nothing to him. I don’t see that comment as calling someone mentally defective.

  46. Adrienne in CA says:

    There’s been so much speculation on what the hell is going on in Obama’s mind. Is he just your run-of-the-mill POS, or is there something deeper at work? Many have suggested that Obama shows signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. An inability to empathize with others could explain his absent, off base, or inauthentic emotional connection to the often moving words composed for him.

    Observing Obama’s more underhanded behaviors, particularly how comfortable he seems to be with screwing over his most trusting admirers, not to mention his perverse treatment of those less susceptible to his charms, I’ve wondered if it’s not worse. Even narcissists are capable of experiencing pain and regret at the turmoil they cause, even if that regret is maddeningly self-centered.

    Sociopaths, on the other hand, lack even that much conscience. And they’re hard to identify. Despite well known cases of serial killers and other obvious fiends, few sociopaths act out their guilt-free whims that flagrantly. Most, though they can wreak havoc on unfortunates in their immediate sphere, lack the intellectual ability, opportunity, or drive to do widespread damage. But the really gifted ones – the ones capable of rising to positions of power in business, or religion, or politics, while mimicking the emotions they observe in normal people but have never experienced themselves (think of the mental overhead required!) – those are the ones that can do extraordinary harm. Whether or not that’s Obama’s MO would take special testing to reveal. But with estimates of the frequency of sociopathy ranging anywhere from 2 to 4% of the population, it’s within the realm of possibility.

    A book I highly recommend is The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. Chances are very good that we all know a sociopath or two, and forewarned is forearmed.