Finally! An Obama speech!
Once again, our Orator-in-Chief will swan his way through the fawning crowd, wave to his stunt Americans in the balcony, and drone on about nothing consequential for an hour or so. MSNBC will praise, Fox will mock, and CNN will drive viewers to another network.
Progressives still believe this president can change his fortunes with a well-tested phrase, a clever tagline or some new rebranding of Wilson-era ideas. But at this point, praising Obama for his oratory is like praising a blind date for her personality.
Successful speeches derive their power not from clever words, but from the actions and beliefs behind them. If Reagan had said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” after a lifetime of indifference to communism, the words would have been forgotten in hours. If Neville Chamberlain had squeaked “we shall fight them on the beaches,” British listeners would start brushing up on their German. Words can stir, motivate and be remembered, but only if the speaker’s actions back them up.
Obama often mouths velvet phrases in a pleasant voice, but his speeches are forgotten. Our post-modern president seems to think that talking about doing something is the same as doing something. When Americans complain about unemployment, Obama gives a jobs speech and checks off “unemployment” from his to-do list. He never considers altering failed policies that have frozen hiring. It’s as if he thinks he's a progressive shaman whose magical words can conjure something into being.
Ricochet features more than one White House speechwriter and many accomplished wordsmiths, so I am more than willing to be corrected. But as far as I can see, the State of the Union will continue to be indifferent to yet another lecture from our feckless Orator-in-Chief.