Saturday, April 09, 2016

Lapdogs, not watchdogs

Quite a bit packed into a couple of minutes:

- Talking over a reporter as she asks a question about the Republican frontrunner, Obama sedately says "oh no". The giggling gaggle's reaction confirms what we already know about the efficacy of the term "Establishment". Professional journalism is a joke.

- Over the course of an answer less than two minutes in length, Obama says "uh" a staggering 22 times, or about once every five seconds. This guy does more public speaking than just about anyone else in the world and yet his ability to speak extemporaneously is worse than that of the average middle manager in corporate America. That he hasn't been coached out of this distracting tick makes me think either that he's so surrounded by yes-men that nobody has the sense to point it out to him and he's not self-critical enough to realize how buffoonish it makes him appear, or that it's perceived to be an indication of how profound and thoughtful his word choices are.

- If the latter explanation is the better one, then it doesn't take much work to pull back that curtain. Revisit the video at the 30-second mark. After a pregnant pause and some bumbling "uhs", he manages to plumb the depths of his internal lexicon for the word "wackier". Profundity indeed!

- Draconian. Ah, yes, the ancient Athenian, Draco, under whose constitution capital punishment was prescribed for the stealing of a cabbage. Removing people from property they're illegally occupying is clearly analogous. What a perspicacious president this country has!

- Obama claims it is impractical to track money order remittances from the US back to Mexico. Money orders in excess of $2,000 already are tracked (something Obama may at least be aware of, as he does seem to catch himself when talking about "the notion that we're going to track every Western Union, uh, uh, bit of money..."). A few years ago, that figure was $1,000 but the amount was subsequently doubled. It would simply be a matter of reducing the dollar amount required to trigger reporting. That reporting, incidentally, requires a lot more work from the retailers of the money orders than it does from the federal government. This there's-no-way-to-do-it is a risible replacement for the real we-don't-want-to-do-it explanation.

It'll be nice to see Obama go. That he might be replaced by someone with more strength and honor, strength and honor:


Jokah Macpherson said...

I liked the term "Ciceronian" from your Twitter feed.

In addition to his lack of technical skill at avoiding vocal fillers, Obama's speeches tend towards the incredibly banal and have an "overbearing parent" tone to them. Pretty much everything agnostic just posted about the new Star Wars movie would apply to Obama's speeches as well. The only lines that are memorable over time are ones that reflect poorly on him ("You didn't build that...", "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal...", "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon", etc.)

Even the "race speech" everyone seemed to like in the 2008 campaign didn't really do much for me.

In contrast, Trump seems to have a gift for improvisation that I envy.

Anonymous said...

Muslims shouting "U.S.A! U.S.A!" at a Trump rally, riiight. They probably call him afterwards to thank him for what he did too.

I will admit that xenophobia is overused but more than a couple of Trump supporters are guilty of being xenophobes.

Audacious Epigone said...


Hyperbole a rhetorician would be proud of!

Listening to Obama has always been sleep-inducing to me, but I can appreciate the cadences and emphases he effectively employs when he's reading speeches. He can't deviate from that (I recall a video in a black church where he tried to sound 'ghetto' and it sounded ridiculous), though.

Has listening to Trump over the last several months spoiled the public, collectively? Everyone else is boring by comparison.


Marcus Aurelius died in 180 AD. Nearly four centuries later Muhammad was born. A few decades after that (at the earliest) Islam came into existence.