Commentary Magazine


Articulate No More

During the campaign, many conservatives, including me, were mystified by the media’s assertion that Obama was the most eloquent man of his era. He was charismatic and inspiring, we were lectured. But conservatives could barely figure out what he was saying (“We are the change we have been waiting for”) or contain their guffaws when he spouted hackneyed phrases (“This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet”) and college-freshmen (apologies to the many bright students) rhetoric (“America, this is our moment.” And, let’s not forget, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”) It seemed gibberish to many of us. But at least it was all of the same piece, all recycled leftist sloganeering.

Now, after 18 months, it seems as though even former advisors and much of the liberal media (OK, there is some overlap there) have given up on Obama and are pronouncing him “incoherent.” CNN (yeah, CNN) reports in the wake of the Ground Zero mosque debacle:

“The danger here is an incoherent presidency,” said David Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group, who provided communications advice to Obama’s 2008 campaign. “Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about. So I think that’s the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past [in the campaign].” … New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote in a recent column that Obama’s clarity and successful messaging during the campaign are gone. In place is a “incoherent president,” who’s “with the banks, he’s against the banks. He’s leaving Afghanistan, he’s staying in Afghanistan. He strains at being a populist, but his head is in the clouds.”

And just to twist the knife, CNN acknowledges that George W. Bush was a more effective communicator:

While many poked fun at former President George W. Bush for mispronouncing words and stumbling through sentences, observers note that he rarely had to backtrack on his answers because he employed a simple and direct messaging approach.


So Obama has gone from inspirational to exasperating for his followers and cheerleaders. Maybe he just ran out of left-wing bumper-sticker phrases. Perhaps, you know, there’s not a brilliant mind at work but a panicked liberal pol who can’t seem to slide through sticky situations with gauzy phrases. It is a revelation to the left and a vindication to the right. Unfortunately, we have over two more years of him, and it’s generally not a good idea to have a president who has become the object of widespread derision. It tends to embolden our foes and demoralize our friends, in this case even more than they already are.

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