‘The Person represents the Promise’

Interesting piece by former Carter speechwriter James Fallows in The Atlantic reviewing the debates from the primaries, with a good analysis of the candidates’ speaking and debating styles, which the author notes are not the same thing (prepared speaking vs. debating, that is). It is interesting to note the look into Obama’s rhetorical skills in light of some of the more recent presidents. To wit:

Based on his rhetoric, Barack Obama would arrive not because of support for his list of programs, although he has offered them, but because of support for his cast of mind. His speeches and debate answers show us how he thinks, much more than they reveal exactly the policies he would advance for, say, improving the economy, dealing with the Chinese (where his proposals have often seemed surprisingly crude and ill-informed), or coping with crime or climate change. Every administration turns on the president’s cast of mind: Bill Clinton’s startling gifts of intelligence and even more startling lack of self-discipline; George W. Bush’s toxic combination of decisiveness and lack of curiosity; Ronald Reagan’s sunniness and lack of interest in detail. But for some presidents, cast of mind is a central feature — the person, much more than the plan, represents the promise of the presidency. Obama is one of these.

I’m not sure his China platform is as ill-informed as Fallows claims, but otherwise, Fallows seems right on the money.


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