Obamamania, what’s next?

June 5, 2008

I have often thought the lost art of oratory was in need of revival. Or, more accurately, an orator need come on the scene. Ronald Reagan came closest of anyone in recent times. I tend to see him more as a presenter. Clinton was considered by some to be a communicator. I’ve never quite figured out exactly what that means. My best guess would be something akin to “hot air merchant”. Both Bushes, Jimmy Carter, Nixon, Truman, Eisenhower could barely choke out a simple declarative sentence. I’m thinking more along the line of FDR (who my folks despised) or a Winston Churchill. For good or evil these men could rouse the sleeping spirit to action. Obama, it appears, is an orator. Empty rhetoric perhaps, but an orator nonetheless.

I recall conversations with a friend of mine; an advertising man from my era. He spoke of the art of message delivery-cum-oratory. He loved to compare Demosthenes and Aeschines. He claimed when Aeschines spoke, people remarked; “what a wonderful speech.” But, when Demosthenes spoke they cried out; “let us march against Phillip!” It would appear the populace is less moved by substance than by style. A fact of life regardless of the era.

Obama fills a need the public has to be inspired and motivated. I remember well the feeling we all had when we heard; “We will fight in the air, we will fight on the beaches, we will fight on the land! We will never give up, never give up, never!”

Would that McCain could turn some of his legendary inner rage into oratory which got thinking people off their butts and into the the streets. “To the ramparts! The enemy is upon us!”

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2 Responses to “Obamamania, what’s next?”

  1. askmom said

    Thought I’d check in on you; it’s been awhile. As usual, your blog is always a good read!

    Anyway, I never thought of oratory as an art, but I believe you are correct. I think it goes hand in hand with charisma. Someone charismatic can get up in front of a group of people and really stir the audience up. I’ve seen it. Everyone leaves excited and motivated but can’t always define in detail what they just heard. “I’m not sure what he/she said, but it sounded great!”
    I did see McCain briefly on Saturday Night Live last week; thank God he does have a sense of humor but the jury is still out on charisma and if he is in possession of any oratory gifts.

  2. hkeyton said

    Thanks for stopping by. You are so right. Apparently for modern day politicians we get the choice of either content or charisma… but not both in the same person at the same time. Sad.

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