Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Burning Bush: Intimations on Elocution and the Third Presidential Debate of 2004

When it comes to analyzing these debates, I do not understand how Kerry can be placed in the same class as George W. Bush. John Kerry is, by most accounts, the greatest presidential candidate the Democrats have put forward in the past 20 years. Kerry has maintained clear arguments, a statesman's poise, a firm grasp of the issues facing the United States, and quality answers that empathize with the vast American populace. On the other hand, George Bush has demonstrated to the public that he has been largely absent from national scene for the better part of two years. Where has he been? Hiding out behind scripted press conferences, scripted photo opts, buried deep in the conservative message. And that message is a powerful one. But for all of Bush’s experience in office and his training on the campaign trail, he cannot to stand on his own against John Kerry. Was the conspiratorial bulge in the back of Bush’s coat really Cheney’s hand pushing through? God only knows.

Throughout the third Presidential debate of 2004, you could almost read Bush’s thoughts, "must stand-up straight, maintain partial grin, knowingly nod at moderator/audience, and DO NOT SCOWL!" Apropos to the circumstances, his dedication to an oddly crafted public façade made his answers incomprehensible, ignorant, and completely lacking in a broad understanding of the issues. It’s the kind of difference that actors understand between learning the gestures of a feeling and understanding the emotion itself. When Bush speaks he does not show any signs of having internalized the subject matter; like a 7th grader cramming for a social studies test, he partially knows the answers by rote and expects the American public to respond accordingly—that response being to put a smiley face right next to his stunning grade of Adequate. Apparently for Bush trying to keep his answers straight, while maintaining a pleasant exterior was too much to handle--Bush looked like a stroke victim on national television. This is to say nothing of the fact that his answers were abbreviated versions of clear arguments from the Republicans--their message machine is direct and to the point, while still arguing on the presumption of facts and logical thought.

A perfect example of this dichotomy between the president and the Republican message machine was the Vice Presidential debate. Personal politics aside, Dick Cheney portrayed himself as thoughtful, coherent, and understanding of the history involved in his viewpoint. Cheney was capable of articulating how these views will affect our future. Excellent, he gets two smiley faces next to his grade. Excuse me for thinking this, but isn’t that what the President should be doing? At the end of the day, if you take away all the problems with the war, all the economic inequality, the blatant disregard for civil liberties, the backdoor draft, the economy, if all this were taken away from our expectations and consideration of the President, don’t we deserve someone who is capable of effective and persuasive rhetoric? The US has paid and enormous price for the past 4 years of presidential leadership. Can’t Bush at least do us all the courtesy of not making those difficult years seem like such a complete waste of time? Sure, he loves his wife and kids, he prays, he goes to work, but I expect a little more from my President. I want someone who is intelligent, someone who will speak to me, someone who has the capacity for abstract thought.

If you analyze the day to day tasks of the president, you will no doubt see that he is focusing his time on meeting with advisors, speaking out on issues, and talking to various supporters. Like CEO’s of corporations, the Presidents role is to motivate his staff, set directives, and suggest action plans that other people will implement. He speaks and others act. The president does not set his own schedule. He rarely writes his own speeches. He does not write policy. So when the job is boiled down to its essence, he is speaking and listening all day long: speaking and listening, that’s really it. Ideally, there is thought between the two activities but not always. For those voters who claim to be undecided—and if you fall within this category may I suggest that its time to take some classes on decision making—please consider my point about the core activities of the presidency, because we can see from the debates that President Bush does not listen, and he cannot speak before a crowd or even to other nations. At a core level of communication this man is fundamentally inadequate to serve.

Instead of thinking about this quality, Bush is applauded for tough talk; he is praised for decisive international opinions. When Kerry even attempts to suggest that the attacks on his record are more complex-- “he voted against the no child left behind act, he voted against partial birth abortion ban,”—he is thought to be weak, too intellectual, and soft. The U.S. has given George Bush endless concessions because he has the title of President; we have allowed him to continue because he was lucky enough to preside over this country during some of the darkest days of the past 30 years. Just because he was on the job, does not mean he did his job correctly. Comedian David Cross said it best, “Nader would have bombed Afghanistan!” So true. God help us all if we have to endure another 4 years of George W. Bush.


At October 19, 2004 at 3:11 PM, Blogger tom pea said...

Let me be the first to post a comment. I linked through DU and a posting from your brother. I have a couple of thoughts.

Decide what kind of a blog you will be. Seems to me there are at least two broad types. One would be what I personally call "lightning bloggers". I belive this would be the type who engage and follow the news fast track. A recent example would be those who did the investigative work in Rathergate.
The second type is more along the lines of you and I. We might call this the "op-ed" school of blogging. That is to say that we write pieces with a longer time frame, more along the lines of the Dionnes and the G Wills of the world.

As far as getting one's blog noticed, I have read a bit on this subject. It is suggested to do a few diferent things, although certainly having a brother who can post threads at a place like DU does not hurt.

Web articles, including some here at blogger on getting noticed are good and include the following: 1) Post on other people's blogs and in political forums; 2) Submit your blog to the various search engines just like the commercial websites do, and my own suggestion; 3) Be patient.

I just stared mine in August and I am not in a hurry to put up a lot of words about threads and stories that will fizzle or prove to be untrue. I let "works in progress" sit in my draft folders, and use my spare time to percolate and find the branches of an issue, and the most economical way to deal with them verbally.

Another good reason to take one's time, especially in the beginning, at least for me, is to find and evaluate which politcal forums, and blogs are most related, and best suited for me to post comments on, and I am not above inserting a hyperlink for apiece I may have written that relates.

I also find that looking for pictures to acompany my articles is lts of fun, and suspect that you do as well.

This all pretty exciting stuff, it has been for me, and I will put you in my favorites, and watch. I will also put you in my Useful and Informative Links section since we seem to be ideologically and intellectually related, as well as new to this exciting endeavor.

Good luck to each of us,
tom pea

At October 20, 2004 at 12:46 PM, Blogger Christopher A. Turner said...

Thanks for you comments and suggestions on my Blog. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences with me. I didn’t know my brother had posted a thread on Democratic Underground until I saw your comments, so that was a pleasant surprise to get feedback that quickly. I am looking forward to expanding on current ideas that I have; I think what you said about the Op-Ed style is particularly appropriate. I don’t have the energy to try and stay on top of daily events in a way that would be meaningful to potential readers and would rather dedicate my time to writing strong pieces with an overall argument/ position—much like you.

If it’s alright with you I would like to link your Blog to my page. I had a chance to read your article on Colin Powell and Sinclair Broadcasting. Powell truly is an accomplished American; it’s very sad to see how his past triumphs have been clouded by the lies of the Bush administration and his role in the Iraq invasion. Living through these times now, I look forward to what historians will say about this government and this period in U.S. history. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you and wish you the best of luck too.

At October 21, 2004 at 11:34 AM, Blogger tom pea said...

Link away!!
Keep the pressure on the right, wherever and whenever it is appropriate!!

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