Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Speaker’s Block

Barack Obama now sheepishly admits what I pointed out two days ago: The man who scolded Americans for speaking English exclusively — speaks English exclusively: “I know because I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing!” he said.

But hey, when you pander, it’s the thought that counts. It’s worth noting that there is no “change” to be found in Obama’s empty championing of American bilingualism. In 2002, Bill Clinton said, “I hope very much that I’m the last president in American history who can’t speak Spanish.” You have to give it to Bill. With some clever phraseology he managed in the space of a sentence to successfully convey what Obama turned into a problematic soundbite, and did so while promising nothing and acknowledging his own limitations.

The point is Obama now stumbles on the gimmes, the rhetorical staples that have been the Left’s bread and butter since the 1960′s. He seems to be suffering from the oratorical equivalent of writer’s block. His shifting positions have left him not knowing quite what to say, and as a result he’s losing touch with how to say anything. He now backs away from previous pronouncements, calling them, “overheated,” while failing to introduce anything new and “leg-tingling” into the mix. If the primary was Obama’s precocious debut masterpiece, might the general election be turning into his sophomore jinx?