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WRM in the WSJ: Obama's Unserious Speeches


WRM’s latest op-ed in the WSJ analyzes the dangerous gap between President Obama’s words and his actions:

Both President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year told the world boldly that Syria’s President Bashar Assad “must” go. Yet the despot remains, gaily crossing American “red lines” and making U.S. policy look feckless. […]

You cannot be a great speaker unless you are a great doer. If Martin Luther King Jr. had not led the civil-rights movement to success and ultimately laid down his life for it, his speeches would be little studied. If Churchill had surrendered to Hitler, nobody would care about his defiant addresses.

At worst, as in Mr. Obama’s Cairo speech, the contrast between exalted rhetoric and mingy deeds undermines both speech and speechmaker. But even at their best, the president’s speeches often demonstrate an intellectual mastery of the subject but lack a true aim. To change that, he would do well to quit thinking of speechmaking as an act in itself and begin to think of it as the verbal expression of an action already under way. Otherwise, Mr. Obama’s speeches will continue to resemble the fireworks that lit up America’s skies last week: briefly dazzling the crowds, then fading quickly as the dark returns.

Read the whole thing here.

[President Obama speaks at NDU, courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Anthony

    “…an intellectual mastery of the subject but lack a true aim.” To me implication leads to seasoning, experience, maturity, mastery – descriptions inferring time and lessons learned not fanfare, hope, and masquerading. Essentially WRM, you’re talking about credibility: “your constituents must have faith in your credibility. They must not only believe your data, but they must also believe you.”

    Also, WSJ opinion article has paywall to access complete read.

    • Corlyss

      Try this:
      If you google the headline, often you will find either a backdoor or another site that quotes the article in toto.

      • Anthony


  • Kavanna

    The supposed intellectual mastery of President Empty Suit is entirely borrowed from stronger minds (not necessarily right, but stronger).

    Intellectual mastery, really learned, would be exhibited in achievable aims and real accomplishments.

    • Andrew Allison

      Did you mean Empty Chair? LOL

    • f1b0nacc1

      Calling Obama an empty suit is an insult to the garment industry

    • avery12

      If the emperor had any clothes, he would be an empty suit.

  • Corlyss

    “Second-rate orators use flowery language to disguise the conventionality or
    insincerity of their sentiments, to disguise their true motives, or—and this was
    the biggest problem for the White House on Syria—to substitute rhetoric for

    Well said, WRM!

    You may be reluctant to admit that all of Obama’s statements on Afpakia are pretty much empty rhetoric but some of us knew from the first one that he had neither the will nor the skill to fight any war, even one he called “the good war” for solely craven vote-getting purposes.

  • foobarista

    You often hear Obama supporters claim that the President “talked about” X, as if this means he actually _did_ X. You’d think they believe in magical spells or something.

  • Marty Keller

    Along with my fellow commenters, I too seek to understand exactly where Mr. Obama has demonstrated “intellectual mastery” of anything about which he has spoken. I remain mystified by such claims, while certainly understanding the propaganda purposes for which most fans and sycophants apply them.

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