Monday, March 3, 2008

Obama's rhetoric

Is "Yes, We Can" vapid or empowering?

Clive Crook and Gideon Rachman, two former Economist writers who decamped to the Financial Times, have engaged in a spirited debate across the blogosphere.

Rachman says that Obama's style resembles "a man doing an impression of what he thinks a great speech might be like". Crook counters that "Surely the simplest test of a speaker is the effect he has on his audience". In other words hundreds of thousands of people, including Crook, cannot be wrong.

Crook does admit that Obama's tour de forces are not prone to detail. But he insists that this is not the point, since "the best political speeches are almost always vacuous". Rachman ends on a generous note. Having observed Obama's substantive performances in the debates, he writes, "Just because Mr Obama gives lousy, empty speeches, it does not mean that he will be a lousy, empty president."

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