Hit & Run

Ferguson, Obama, and the Pundit Class's Fixation on Speeches

Words are cheap.


This is the top story at The New Republic tonight:

Trying to be constructive, I see.

That really is the headline. The article doesn't even call for new legislation (like, say, Rep. Hank Johnson's Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act). It just urges Obama "to use the bully pulpit to steer the national agenda in a positive direction," as though we're sitting around helplessly seeking presidential guidance.

Is there a term for this passion for speeches—this pundit-class faith that it is inspiring words from a paternal figure that drive the engine of social change? How did anyone get such an idea? Did they learn history from a highlights reel? Have they seen too many message-movies that end with soaring monologues? Or do they just dream of someday writing such orations themselves? (I suppose we should be glad at least that TNR didn't run one of those "Dear Mr. President: I took the liberty of writing a speech for you" columns.)

I watched an Obama speech tonight. The cable channels aired it in a split screen with footage from Ferguson, so as the president urged calm I could see a live feed of the country ignoring him. His comments were predictable and bland, but even if he'd given us the most stirring rhetoric of his career I can't imagine that it would have made much difference. This is the news, not The West Wing. Words are cheap.

If someone juxtaposed this deliberately after the fact, we'd be calling it heavy-handed.

NEXT: The Improbability of Federal Charges Against Darren Wilson

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  1. The Cult of the Presidency remains extremely strong.

    1. That's part of it, but partly it's the leftist obsession with verbiage. They love editorials that say the right things. They love fiction that has the "right messages." They love protestors who chant the right things. They love talking to "raise awareness." But they hate "hate speech" and any other words that conflict with their views: those words are too powerful and must be suppressed!

      So telling the President to go and talk at people makes perfect sense to them.

      1. Even worse, it's upper-class leftists 1) being scared of the lower classes that vote for them, and 2) pandering as usual because they're all so enamored with MLK's speeches.

        Obama is the culmination of such lunacy - more entitlements, more speeches, more racial awareness, less productivity. The only thing that pisses me off more is the racial herding of blacks into supporting these hateful morons - "black groupthink" has accomplished nothing. But to the upper-class lefty advocates, groupthink is the goal, and speeches ARE the deliverable of that goal.

    2. Strong is Obama with the cult of the Presidency. But not that strong.

  2. But Obo's *intent* was good! His *heart* was in the right place!
    He's a bozo who has been told by sycophants that his noise has some effects; he's as dumb as shreek and Tony.

  3. These are the kind of people desperately eager to start a slow clap

    1. Dammit, I was hoping for a Downfall clip.

  4. Speculating about the intent of one person in some event that you didn't witness is dumb. Pretending that you magically know what millions of voters are all thinking is delusional. But that's what it means to be a pundit.

  5. If this had happened within the first six months of Obama's first term, a speech MIGHT have had some impact. At that time, the uninformed still believed that he was the Bringer of Light.

    Today, all but his most ardent supporters realize that he's just another hack in a suit. Obama giving a speech, the prestige of his office notwithstanding, is the same as Orrin Hatch or Chuck Schumer or Barbara Boxer or anyone else giving a speech.

    1. Obama is just another one of those "white saviors" ENB was telling us about.

    2. If Obama hadn't wasted so much "bully pulpit" capital on things like the "beer summit" for the black professor stupidity even at this late date he MIGHT have been able to impact this with a speech. The President really does have power with speeches but not when you waste that power on minor things and not saving it for the big things like this.

    3. In this specific instance, though, I think there's a chance it could work.

  6. Not as much impact as a speech and 120 million cans of beer.

  7. I cannot believe that Holder's team has not formed a legal opinion as to whether it is proper to indict the cop. It just isn't possible that they don't already know what their legal opinion of the evidence is.

    If they truly believe he is guilty of murder, they should have announced the charges tonight during this speech.

    And if they do not truly believe they have the evidence to charge him in good faith, they should have announced that fact in the speech tonight as well. If President Obama and his African-American Attorney General both stood up and said "we have carefully examined all the evidence, and we do not believe these tragic events involve any criminal conduct on the part of the officer", these protesters would have their knees cut right out from under them.

    Either way, if they had announced their intentions tonight they could have saved everyone a bunch of trouble.

    Instead I think that they really, really want to indict him, regardless of what the evidence says. And even more than this, they want the political advantage that is available from fomenting racial tensions. So they'll let this simmer for a while, then they'll let us know what they intend to do.

    1. They are doing the same thing they did in the Zimmerman case. Making vague statements that will allow this to be buried in the news cycle. Plus like the Zimmerman case they have no basis to charge Wilson with anything. They just need their base to think they are doing something.

      1. Cyto and FUQ are both correct.

        1. Uptwinkles to BOTH!!

  8. Did they learn history from a highlights reel?

    If only. They learned history from Highlights magazine. You know, the one in the dentist's office with the think-and-do section in the back?

    1. Well, the numbers prove it. I'm a Goofus, not a Galant.

  9. Is there a term for this passion for speeches?this pundit-class faith that it is inspiring words from a paternal figure that drive the engine of social change?

    Yes...it's called "stupidity". It's prevalent among people who've spent most of their lives working in politics (and that includes journalists) rather than real jobs. They're actually dumb enough to believe that all it takes to fix problems is to pass a law or make a speech...and that any actions taken (or not taken) after said law or speech is utterly irrelevant to the outcome.

  10. "You didn't burn that!"

    1. "If I had a son, he'd be that guy looting the auto parts store"

  11. Considering how terrible his remarks were last night, and how generally uninspiring he's been since 2010 at least, I think the president lost his innate power to move mountains with mere words.

    I don't know if he was off-teleprompter or his speechwriters were caught unprepared or what, but he just kept repeating the name sentences over and over.

    1. I think the president lost his innate power to move mountains with mere words.

      But he seems to have gained the ability to make formerly die-hard Democratic black voters turn on the party and break from identity politics.

      Six years of horrific economic policy and growing unemployment go a long way in convincing people that it doesn't matter what color a politician's skin is when he's a totally incompetent piece of shit who isn't helping you.

  12. We're talking about progs here. The same people that got bent out of shape and needed emergency grief centers after hearing about "rape" are the same ones who think words from the Almighty will actually make a difference.

    They actually think this shit will work.

  13. Remember early on when Barack was going to use his magical powers to unite the country and make race relations better than ever? So how's that working out? Right, about as well as everything else is lately.

    Heck, even some guys who really should have known better like Gillespie actually fell for that laughable bunkum.

    1. Remember early on when Barack was going to use his magical powers to unite the country and make race relations better than ever?

      While it seems counterintuitive, I think that's actually happening...just not in the way Obama envisioned. He's uniting people of different races and creeds against himself and the Democratic Party.

      Turns out that even people who vote primarily based on race at some point expect the people they vote for to produce positive results.

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  15. but that's the only thing president knows how to do. He's never DONE anything.

  16. If only most journalists weren't such airheads like that TNR author....

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