Obama’s weird speech

I watched Obama’s oil spill speech on YouTube a few nights ago. (Here is the text.) What struck me was the absolute strangeness of his never once addressing the question of how does the leak get stopped, combined with his pitch for government subsidized clean fuels which have nothing to do with solving this crisis, topped off by his weird rhetorical climax summoning us to some great national achievement which he doesn’t specify:

And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny—our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.

Our determination to fight for an America which we don’t know what it is? There’s progressivism for you. A call to keep moving forward toward some transcendently alluring goal that lacks any content. A.k.a. “Change,” or “Change you can believe in.”

It went over about as well as Jimmy Carter’s 1979 “malaise” speech, in which he portrayed oil shale development as the moral equivalent of war.

Finally, there was the unbearable repetitiveness of Obama’s artificial enunciation, in which he ended each sentence on the same authoritative, black preacher-sounding down-note, so that every sentence sounded exactly the same as all the others.

UPDATE: When drafting this entry, I thought of comparing the oppressively unchanging rhythms of Obama’s speech pattern to the vuvuzela, but then decided not to, as it would be too involved, and also maybe I’ve done enough on the vuvuzela, such as comparing its senselessness to the senselessness of soccer as I experience the game. But the vuvuzela has a fertile metaphorical life that cannot be suppressed, and now I see this, by Jed Babbin at The American Spectator:

The constant droning noise emanating from President Obama sounds more and more like the kazoo-like tone drowning out World Cup Soccer games. His vacuous Oval Office oil speech last week was redundant proof that he’s succeeded in turning the bully pulpit into just bull.

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James P. writes:

“What struck me was the absolute strangeness of his never once addressing the question of how does the leak get stopped,”

But he did. He said, “This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.” So the relief well will stop the leak. I sure don’t know how that is supposed to work. One would think that even with a relief well, the original hole would keep leaking, and would need to be plugged somehow. But that’s what he said. [LA replies: Ahh. So he has surrendered to the idea that short of the relief well, which will take months, there is nothing that can be done.]

I also thought it was a weird and deeply frightening speech, in content and in delivery. Did he skip any specifics about the present and focus on airy plans for the future because he has no specific plans for the present? This speech commits him to nothing, least of all to a specific date when the problem will be definitively solved—in fact, it could go on “for months and even years.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 21, 2010 02:10 PM | Send

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