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REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS
"Want to be President? Talk folksy"
Friday, August 03, 2012 6:56 AM
Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...
Quote:If language has anything to do with winning an election, we don't need recent news that Obama is ahead in key swing states to teach us who's going to be president for the next four years. The way Obama speaks and the way his campaign uses language will go a long way in warming the hearts of those who vote more on the basis of the gut than on policy details or preset commitments.
Romney's recent surmises on how cultural differences have determined the differing fates of Israel and the Palestinians have an analogue here. Romney and Obama come from different linguistic cultures, and unfortunately for Romney, his is increasingly obsolete.
Romney not only looks but talks "like a president." Few consider Obama's speaking style un-presidential either, but Romney's speaking style, that of the airline pilot or the man in the GPS saying "Turn right," is even more of what we think of as how the commander in chief talks.
However, that vision -- informed by memories of FDR, JFK, and Martin Sheen's President Bartlett on "The West Wing" -- is now out of step with what really stirs people in their guts about public figures. The cool, WASP-y voice now has an archaic ring to it, redolent of what Boomers long ago dismissed as the Establishment.
Our era prefers a folksier voice, in real life, in movies, in music and even in our candidates for high office. This is partly due to the egalitarian preferences that the 1960s counterculture left in its wake, and partly that nonstop television and web coverage simulates intimacy. Even Hillary Clinton tried to fake a Joe Sixpack cadence speaking to working-class white audiences in 2008, in a way that neither FDR nor JFK would have dreamed of trying to pull off.
To voters on the fence, what will appeal more: truth and responsibility or snapshots and chocolate? The answer is clear. In an ideal world for Romney, his media coaching would include Henry Higgins-style speech lessons from Chris Rock or Louis C.K.
Short of that, a presidential candidate who sounds like your father's history teacher is dragging along quite the linguistic ball and chain.
Friday, August 03, 2012 3:13 PM
America loves a winner!
Friday, August 03, 2012 4:52 PM
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