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Posts Tagged ‘speech’

Whatever you think about Obama — and he is not very popular these days — the fact remains that he is one of the most talented politicians of our age. At his best, he gives a heck of a speech, he is undoubtedly intelligent and thoughtful, and while I disagree with most of his policies, he did inspire a lot of hope and passion during his amazing  — and succesful — campaign for the Presidency two years ago.

When I see Marco Rubio, I see the same qualities that Obama has — charisma, charm, a great personal story, and an excellent speaker. He is the star of this mid-term election. He will be a senator in 5 days. And I believe he will become President within the next ten years. Mark my words.

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A new French law criminalizes “psychological violence” against a spouse or cohabiting partner.

Pretty great I say. The French are geniuses. They have already outlawed pesky things like free speech, unsexy clothes and hard work. Now all those domestic arguments must stay within strict rules laid down by the government. Think about all the hours saved. No endless bickering, no name-calling, no emotional blackmails. Ah, what a life. Relaxed, stress-free and productive. A nice, fat, motherly government to keep deviants in line and make sure no one ever hurts another’s feelings. What’s there to worry? Big momma will always watch out for you.

“Why can’t you be caring and romantic again, like when we were seventeen? I wonder why I still stick with you!

“No one’s forcing you to stay honey. Feel free to move your fat ass and leave me for good. Just stop subjecting me to your endless blabbering.”

“Sob! Police!! I have been PSYCHOLOGICALLY abused!!”

On the French agenda for next month: rules forbidding laziness, rudeness and jealousy.

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[Post edited] I discovered this video today. It is a recording of a speech Obama made more than an year ago. The familiar themes of collectivist altruism (this is Obama after all!) have their place but the speech is mainly about religion in a political context. Having heard many good and not so good Obama speeches, I think the one ranks among his best. It is extremely substantive and gives a lot of insight into Obama’s thinking on these matters. As an atheist, I find 26:50 to 31:30 particularly relevant.

Another very significant section is 21:50 to 22:39 where Obama talks of personal morality and its effect on political philosophy. This should be heard in conjunction with 28:25 to 29:44. Of course, Obama is talking in a religious context here but I think it is interesting to reinterpret these passages as applied to ideologies, particularly those with a moral  component. I hope to expand on this theme in one of my long planned essays.

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This case may have set a worrying precedent.

I do not advocate, as some libertarians do, that we do away with all defamation laws. It does make some economic and moral sense to penalize speech that is demonstrably and objectively false, and results in specific harm. However, I am in all circumstances opposed to defamation being a criminal offence — a barbarous relic that has no place in a free society. And truth should always be a defense.

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Some of Obama’s speches, like the 2002 one on the Iraq war, the 2004 one in the DNC or the one earlier this year in race, are magnificiently written and rich in content.

By contrast, the one he delivered in Virginia on Saturday night is unremarkable, indeed trite in content, but stylistically brilliant. It starts off slowly, almost lamely and slowly builds up to a crescendo. The last five minutes or so should be mandatory viewing for anyone who wishes to learn how to send 25,000 people into crazed rapture. If you had any doubts about Obama’s oratory skills, or wondered what is it about this guy that sends chills up Chris Mathews’ legs or leads Oprah to declare him as ‘the one’, you need to watch the video below.

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Not a great speech like some of his earlier ones but pretty good nevertheless. He did what he had to do.

Personally, I disliked quite a bit of the content, especially the economic populism at the beginning. But then, the speech was not aimed at me. I suspect that the democratic base and those who agree with Obama’s fundamentally collectivist worldview (‘moral obligation’, ‘mutual responsibility’, ‘service’) will adore it.

I will be surprised if he won over too many independents with today’s performance. But then, he doesn’t need to. This speech was designed to make all those Hillary-backers and temperamental left-liberals fall in line. Add his current level of support with the entire Democratic base uniting behind him and you are looking at a landslide victory.

Both in style and content, the speech got better as the night went on. The crowd went periodically crazy. Overall, an A-.

[EDIT 1]: Here’s Andrew Sullivan’s gushing reaction. I agree with him about the “unabashedly, unashamedly liberal” part. That is why libertarians will be mildly disappointed with this speech while those who agree with his worldview will lap it up. But yes, I will say this much, I will very very surprised if Obama loses this election after this.

[EDIT 2]: The part of the speech I liked best (emphasis mine):

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime – by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Also, this line was great:

But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

It was also good to hear him advocate for nuclear energy and talk of privacy as an important issue. Sadly, both of these were met with silence from the partisan crowd.

Unfortunately, as I said, there were too many jarring notes in the rest of the speech for a minarchist like me. For those interested, here’s a transcript.

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The last time Obama had to give a speech to save his life, he delivered a tour-de-force. You could see it coming a mile away.

The trouble with Obama is that he is such a damn good orator that the expectations for tomorrow will be sky-high. Yet, he will need to surpass those expectations if he has to create a buzz, and will have to do it through content rather than soaring rhetoric because the latter is only going to reinforce the notion that he is an empty suit only good at words.

The last few weeks have seen the polls tighten to essentially a tie. Tomorrow is Obama’s call to shine. Well, he has done it before. Obama can be verbose and nuanced — too nuanced — in impromptu conversations and debates. However, he is the acknowledged master of the “big speech”. His greatest speeches — the 2002 one against the war, the 2004 speech at the convention, the race speech earlier this year, all came at big moments. So I’ll be tuning in tomorrow and expecting him to deliver.

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