Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Presidential Speech Coach

At Monday's news conference the President painted a dire picture of the country's situation. While he did so, however, I kept thinking, wow, isn't it wonderful to hear such well-constructed, complete sentences, flowing one into the other, powered by the strength of a rational mind? And the voice, smooth and snicker-free—what a delight! And finally, at last, after eight long years, the word “nuclear” properly pronounced! (Why didn't Bush's advisers advise him that “nucular” is wrong and sounds awful? Were they afraid of him? Or did Bush think that he was The Decider in matters of language as well as policy?)

Finally, a President we don't have to be ashamed of when he steps to the podium and opens his mouth!

That said, I have a tiny grammatical bone to pick with Obama. Well, maybe not so tiny, because it bothers me a lot. He often uses “that” redundantly, as in (not an exact quote), “I am afraid that, if we don't intervene in the economy, that we will have a catastrophe on our hands.” See what I mean? That second “that” sounds like a hiccup. It implies that the speaker, or the listener, has gotten lost in the subordinate clause, and can't click back to the main clause.

And one other little thing, but one that might get bigger if, as I hope, we are going to be listening to Obama for the next eight years. It's his habit of dragging out “and” with his voice, as in “...unemployment aaaaaand lack of consumer confidence...” He does it a lot.

I'm not being petty here. I'm just invested. I want him to be 150% perfect, so that everyone—Republicans, the Taliban, the entire Middle East—will love him and will make it possible for him to save the world.

4 comments :

  1. Clinton said nucular, too. It goes back to Eisenhower. Bush I said it correctly...my theory is that Bush II wants to sound like a bumpkin.

    Obama does drag words out like that. I haven't noticed the that problem (but now I will!).

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  2. What I adored about his press conference was the pauses between sentences. He allowed a few heart-stopping seconds of silence while he considered what he was about to say--I was so impressed. Our President is thinking!! I fell in love with him over and over again in those pauses.

    But yes, his cadence, his "aaands" and weird rhythm, bothers me also... As Bridgett said, I hadn't noticed the that thing, now I will, thanks a lot.

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  3. Bridgett, funny, I don't remember Clinton saying "nucular"--it's because I liked him otherwise, and subconsciously corrected the pronunciation for him. Surely JFK said it right?

    Alison, sorry about that. I just hope that, now that you're aware of it, that it won't drive you nuts the way it does me.

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