Serious President is Serious

Listening to the President’s remarks on Japan today, I was reminded of something that  nags at me most of the times I hear him speak: what’s the rush? Does he have something else to do? “Golf,” you say, you cynical partisan, you. Okay. Besides golf. We all know he’s capable of good set-piece oratory, but when it comes to important moments like the Japanese speech, there’s a flat phoned-in quality you wouldn’t expect from the greatest orator in American history. Why? Because he’s not talking about himself, perhaps. When it’s a campaign speech to rouse the base or rally the masses, well, as the song says, this one goes out to the one I love. Even the Tucson speech could fit in that category, since he no doubt regarded Healer-in-Chief as a position appropriately for the nation’s top lightworker, but when it comes to these briefings and statements, his heart’s not in it. Not to say you want someone emoting every line – no. Stoic is good. But he reads the prepared text with a flat inflection, a predictable cadence, a rote habitual downward inflection; it’s the choppy read of a run-through, scanned for content, not for impact. Either he’s disengaged from the material, or this is his Serious Person Voice. I don’t know. I do know that he sounds like this is somehow an imposition, a thing to be gotten over with. It doesn’t sound like a man who knows how to lead. It sounds like a man disengaged from the very moment he’s attempting to shape.


  1. Jeff Oster says

    I think this is why I never thought the President was a good communicator. He’s a good speaker, but not a good communicator. His speeches sound good when you listen them, but at the end you realize you really don’t quite know what he really believes or intends, rather only what he wanted to tell you that he believes and intends.

    A good communicator uses speech to open up your mind and get inside your brain, with the intention of changing your mind about things and making you think about things in a way you didn’t before. Good commnicators influence you with words. Obama never does that. He only sounds good. And that’s very different.

    Good column, James, as always.

    • Jeffery Stutsman says

      I dont really understand the communication angle. I’ve never understood why Obama is considered a good communicator. In fact, considering the running jokes about his prompters, his over reliance on easily to tag lines like ” let me be clear,” and most importantly, he fails to inspire anyone but the most bloodthirsty partisan hacks. The man swooped down in 2008 like Moses from the mountain top according to the Msm, to save us all. It was Polosti who crammed his agenda, not any great public will. Obama largely lost the conversation and Americas attention within a year. I don’t see the great communication skills that he’s given such credit.

        • Walter Pimbley says

          Wow, imagine Hugh Hewitt commenting here…I didn’t even know the guy had a subscription!

          • Jeffery Stutsman says

            I would feel special, except he spelled my name wrong, reducing an otherwise celebratory 15 minutes of fame to sour grapes. Not to worry, now knowing Hughs soft spot, ill be sure to overlook his rightful place in the acknowledgment page of my book, should it ever be written.

  2. Walter Pimbley says

    Duane, I just figured out your gravatar – you’re the Wizard of Oz! But aren’t we supposed to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”? Pretty funny. :-)

    • Duane Patterson says

      that’s been my tagline all along. the wizard was nothing but an overactive producer.

      • Jeffery Stutsman says

        If so, that mystery is finally solved. So can we get back to the search for Elvis?

        • Jeffery Stutsman says

          …acually, he’s probably with Obama, who I believe is fending off anti-yankee protestors in Brazil. Obviously an inacurate report because we are living in the post-Cairo speach era. Having offered a clear appology, and accepted guilt for all the worlds problems from whatever source, country or historical era, there is no ill will left in the wold.

  3. Jeffery Stutsman says

    Until then please stay tuned for the forthcoming website totally dedicated to the great political books, that didn’t credit Hugh Hewitt. Join the journalistic, literary conversation, as we search for truth behind this omission. Follow our crack investigative journalists as they ask the tough questions which lead our team to the hard answers surrounding the real Hugh Hewitt.

    • ted trepanier says

      How about the top ten books that don’t credit Hugh? We could put that on during the first half of Friday’s last hour in lieu of trailers?

  4. Jeffery Stutsman says

    I love the writings of James Lileks. This is one of Hugh Hewitts true talents. He has an almost devine ability to locate entertaining, interesting and talented people. We are all made richer through his sharing them with us.