Mark Steyn does Obama’s Philadelphia speech, refusing to accept comparisons with “the Gettysburg Address, or FDR’s First Inaugural, or JFK’s religion speech, or [per Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books] Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech of 1860.”
It was never a great speech. It was a simulacrum of a great speech written to flatter gullible pundits into hailing it as the real deal. It should be “required reading in classrooms,” said Bob Herbert in the New York Times; it was “extraordinary” and “rhetorical magic,” said Joe Klein in Time – which gets closer to the truth: As with most “magic,” it was merely a trick of redirection.
With it he seemed to make Jeremiah Wright “vanish into thin air, Having “sat in the pews of a neo-segregationist huckster for 20 years,” he
looked America in the face and said: Who ya gonna believe? My “rhetorical magic” or your lyin’ eyes?
This is his rhetoric problem.
The gaseous platitudes of hope and change and unity no longer seem to fit the choices of Obama’s adult life. Oddly enough, the shrewdest appraisal of the senator’s speechifying “magic” came from Jeremiah Wright himself. “He’s a politician,” said the reverend. “He says what he has to say as a politician. … He does what politicians do.”
It’s this comment that finally got O’s dander up:
“What I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I’m about knows that – that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the – the commonality in all people.”
Sure. And he’s still sore, says the Mrs., who
told a rally in Durham, North Carolina, on Friday that only her husband’s desire to change US politics had helped him to control his feelings: “Barack is always thinking three steps ahead – what do we need to do to make change.”
Her husband was thinking “I can’t let my ego, my anger, my frustration get in the way of the ultimate goal,” she said.
She’s “a bizarre mix of condescension and grievance – like Teresa Heinz Kerry with a chip on her shoulder,” says Steyn.
But the common thread to her rhetoric is its antipathy to what she calls “corporate America.” Perhaps for his next Gettysburg Address the senator will be saying, “I could no more disown my wife than I could disown my own pastor. Oh, wait … .”