Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Politically Speaking

Another SOTU, another one unwatched by me.

When I was director of public policy for an Atlanta group a few years back my boss asked me what I thought of the SOTU, I told him I hadn't seen it. He was semi-irate. How could a person in my position not watch the speech? Don't worry said I. It reads a lot faster.

Am I the only person who finds these speeches unwatchable? Even with a decent speaker the stupid dance of planned applause lines and the audience drives me insane. When did political speeches go this way? Surely there was a time when the speech was delivered with power as though written into the scene of a drama. Under those circumstances the hearers would only applaud when truly seized with emotion or appreciation. The speaker might even be a little tripped up by the unexpected (better still, unplanned) outpouring of approval.

Kill the applause line. It has already killed political speeches, so we're just talking about revenge.

11 comments:

KeithM, Indy said...

I still watch it, but you are correct, most political speeches are better when read. And that goes double for President Bush.

Of course, it doesn't help when applause is used as a partisan trick.

And how many potential Presidential candidates rolled their eyes at certain parts of the speech last night. Very un-Presidential like behavior if you ask me.

connie deady said...

And Hilary chewed gum. I expect a post from Tom about that.

I can't watch Bush. I might damage my new big screen HDTV.

I'm hoping the Democrats can finally start to idealize what we stand for.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Where are your self-preservation instincts, Hunter? You never show your hand in that situation. Come to work with the speech already read, and when asked to comment, you comment about content.

Only semi-irate? You're lucky.

Hunter Baker said...

Jay:

As a Naval officer once said of young men, "They're young, dumb, and full of . . ." Well, I really shouldn't finish that rather salty quote.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Not only was this, like every other SOTU I've ever tried, unwatchable, it preempted House. It's enough to send me back into the cranky and inept arms of the LP.

Matt Huisman said...

Kathy, the SOTU is just one more example of why you need TiVo.

tbmbuzz said...

Put me down as a contrarian to here - I always enjoy watching the SOU, including the pre- and post-spectacle. (I wonder if Cynthia McKinney dry cleans her red outfit after every SOU or goes through several SOUs before bothering). I enjoyed the obligatory shot of Hillary's sour face; heck, she couldn't even crack a smile when GWB lightheartedly mentioned her husband. If she were ever president, the one advantage she would have is that she is mean enough to stand up to the world's scumbags; I'd actually feel sorry for a tinhorn dictator trying to deal with her if he were on her wrong side. Ain't gonna happen, though. Over the next two years we will witness one of the more spectacular implosions in American political history; she has been coronated way too early by her supporters. I will go out on a limb here - she will NOT get the Democrat nomination. (And if she does, more states will go red, as long as the Repubs don't nominate another Bob Dole).

KeithM, Indy said...

I wouldn't feel sorry for tin-horn dictators, they deserve everything they get. I'd feel sorry for our allies, and the gried they'ld have to put up with from Hillary. I have no doubt that, no only does she think she knows best for our own nation, but every other nation as well.

***

via Powerline...

http://www.nationalreview.com/symposium/symposium200602010500.asp

Even at his most conciliatory, Bush continues to annoy all the right people.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I had Hillary down for a curiously strong breath mint.

I like SOTUs. They're more tone-setters than substantive, but besides campaign speeches, are the only venue for rhetoric high-minded enough to reflect our greatest aspirations.

The degree to which what the president says is not laughable to the public is a good gauge for how well we're doing.

Bush didn't do bad, I think.

James Elliott said...

Of course, it doesn't help when applause is used as a partisan trick.

That part was awesome! He totally deserved it, too.

I hate SOTU. It's boring and not even Constitutionally required.

connie deady said...

I like SOTUs. They're more tone-setters than substantive, but besides campaign speeches, are the only venue for rhetoric high-minded enough to reflect our greatest aspirations.

I agree with that. It's nice to hear someone put forth concepts, aims and aspirations, even if unachieved.

Good speeches are lyrical and poetic. It is hard when you really disagree with them. JFK's speechwriters had a beautiful turn of phrase. I think Reagan's were good too.