Obama’s Next Great Speech (Ho-Hum?)
The familiar pattern emerges: Aides spin a preview, he delivers an admirable speech, nothing changes.
How did Barack Obama morph from an inspiring orator to a professorial President without the power to lead? Yes, yes: a crashing economy, wall-to-wall GOP resistance, Tea Party insanity… Granted, but there must be more.
“I’d rather be a really good one-term president,” he said a year ago, “than a mediocre two-term president.” As of now, there is doubt that he will be either.
Tomorrow night’s speech on deficits offers another chance to lead, but a sinking suspicion suggests more of the same.
“Despite the ferocious opposition he has faced since the day he took office,” Paul Krugman writes, “Mr. Obama is clearly still clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences. And…win re-election by positioning himself as being conciliatory and reasonable, by always being willing to compromise.
“But…the nation wants–and more important, the nation needs–a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand.”
It’s more complicated than that, of course, but these past two years underscore the classic dilemma about oratory: differing public responses to Cicero (“How well he speaks”) and Demosthanes (“Let us march!”).
If the President wants to mobilize Americans to back him against the Republican blueprint to tear down their government, more than Ciceronian eloquence is needed.