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Friday, July 25, 2008

Change we can believe in

I'm a contrary so-and-so at the best of times. So forgive me for not joining in the Obamania currently sweeping Germany and other parts of the world (like Ireland) that don't have a say in the US Presidential election.

Much has been made of Obama's electric speechifying since his campaign commenced. And certainly, his oratory has proved inspirational enough to get him into pole position in a two horse race for the biggest job on the planet.

In fact, desperate Republicans have been trying to smear Obama for exactly that: they claim that he's all mouth and no trousers, making pretty speeches with little or no experience of governance to back up his change agenda.

So what substance might there be to Obama if it were demonstrated that his inspirational public speaking was in fact as shallow as everything else?

Very little, it seems to me. Which is profoundly depressing, given that we're now in a situation where either he or that old wardog McCain are going to be occupying the Whitehouse.

But thankfully Obama is a great orator, right? Um, wrong. Lookee here and see what happens when his teleprompter fails:

Oh, and he's often just plain wrong even when the prompter is working. Try this doozie for size, from yesterday's Berlin speech:

"The greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. These now are the walls we must tear down.
Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they've come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic have found a way to live together."

At the last count there were still around 40 such walls in Belfast, including one that bisects a children's park.


Missing Neighbour said...

In a way I feel sorry for him. George W has been rampaging around the planet destroying lives, cultures and the American people’s ability to receive a welcome anywhere. Whilst simultaneously destroying the economy and creating an astronomical national deficit at the same time as India and China happen to be rising stars in the world economy. Oh Dear.
Lets hope Obama has been in the gym recently because he is going to need more than great oration skills to sort this one out.

JC Skinner said...

Sort of unfortunate in that geo-political context that the US is getting a choice of possibly the two worst candidates going.
If the run-off were between Hilary and Ron Paul, then there might be some expectation of change that I could believe in.
But McCain V Obama? It's dumb versus dumber.

dinogirl said...

Let's be fair. The man makes hour-long speeches three or four times a week (mostly from memory). One minute of confusion in eighteen months of campaigning hardly makes him ineloquent.

The walls comment - well, yes, in the sense of physical walls. But in the general psychological sense (which was clearly his real meaning) is it not broadly true? Doubtless most Germans would be quick to point out that the barriers between East and West aren't entirely vanished, but what onlooker (particularly commenting with situations like Israel in mind) could not say that Germany, N Ireland, was not vastly improved?

Cutting through my own verbosity - as rhetoric goes, I think it was pretty accurate. He wasn't saying all is sunshine and roses - he was saying that equally intractable walls like that in Israel have come down, and allowed people to live normal lives.

I think attacking his oration is a mistake. Have you read his speech on race? It's the most sensible thing to come out of America on the subject in years. I would read rather than watch it though - he adopts a very measured tone throughout (to contrast with the fire 'n brimstone 'angry black man' clips of his former pastor that were doing the cable news rounds at the time) and I think it deserved more passion.

JC Skinner said...

Except he clearly doesn't make those speeches from memory, as the clip indicates.
But I'm not attacking his oratory at all. I'll leave that to the Republicans to do.
I'm, well not attacking, but querying the style-over-substance nature of him as a person and his entire campaign.
His experience is tissue thin, and concerning on certain issues where a voting record exists.
That's much more relevant than his speechifying, to my mind.
But the problem is that most people, and certainly most voters in the US, are unlikely to look beyond the showy setpiece media events.
In any case, he's still a marginally better bet than McCain. I'd rather have a rookie wildcard (The CNN tag on yesterday's speech was 'Ich bin ein beginner', which is sorta funny) than the policies and people that McCain espouses.
But it really is a sad and sorry choice for the people of the United States.

dinogirl said...

He doesn't make them all from memory - but many of them are (admittedly, he often delivers the same basic speech several times over in different town halls).

"Ich bin ein beginner" Hee!

Informer said...

Me thinks that he is being used anyway regardless of his oratory and memory. We all know who wags the tale in America anyway, the stinken rich of course. He has been sent beyond to attract people back to the tribble about America being the land of the free etc, they are seriously gonna need more than a black president to get me back, and I dare say millions more onto the positivity that used to shine from the states. They have caused more wars and death than many the tyrrants over the years, not mentioning the terrible death toll in these small countries which have been left in a terrible state over BLACK GOLD. But in house, he will make it easier for the many blacks and down trodden to try and bring abit of respectibilty back to their lives, speaking of Carolina poor and others.

Informer said...

And if you don't think the Shadow Forces run the conflicts, look at the history of America running terrorist operations around the world?

Even here in Ireland they now contribute to try and break the cycle by using setup targets, which they mastered in the States, like Macolm X, Luther and Kennedy.


Keep their Obama and their secret organisations, we can look after our own affairs.

Rua said...

The great myth of the Peace Process, nobody outside of Ireland knows about the walls. Even at that, its mostly only people with Northern connections who even acknowledge that there is a problem.

So from an international 'lets lie to each other' point of view, HE's right? I've confused myself

Informer said...

Oh the walls are there alright, just look at the reasons why though.


IF the walls came down do you think the hurt that some of the people that lost loved ones to naked sectarian violence would feel safe? Once they find away for bigots to run out of oxygen then maybe they can foster better relationships, but until then keep the walls up and build more as they are doing in Israel. Starve them of oxygen and then let them live in the quagmire their own bigotry create.

JC Skinner said...

The Israeli apartheid wall is a real thing of evil not to be emulated here in Ireland or indeed anywhere else.
A lot more hard work needs to be done in interface areas before the remaining 'peace lines' come down, but the alternative is not worth thinking about.
It has to be done, so let's do it.
We could usefully start by removing the wall that splits the park of my childhood in two.