President Obama gave a speech tonight – second one from the Oval Office in his 19 months in office. It was a yawner. What’s going on here?
First of all I want to confess I’ve not reviewed Obama recently because he basically is the same. In delivery. Think of teleprompter, predictability, cadence, professorial, etc. See here and here for a lot more detail. But tonight I was challenged by Michael Hyatt on Twitter, who said;
@MichaelHyatt: I’d like to hear @BertDecker’s analysis of the President’s speech. It’s difficult to comment apolitical.
Now Michael is a friend, and a HEAVYWEIGHT (sorry for the caps) in the blogosphere and Twitterland, as well as respected CEO, so I couldn’t refuse. Otherwise I would have passed it by again.
It IS hard to be apolitical, as I try to stay away from the politics of the content in most reviews. But in this 19′ speech anyone could have said “What’s the point.”
- An apolitical comment would be that he wanted to be front and center, use the Bully Pulpit, and declare the war over and reshift our priorities as a country. Did he? I don’t think so.
- A political comment (that I heard elsewhere) would be that he wasn’t really as interested in Iraq and America at war as he was about changing the domestic agenda of the country. I’m not sure that’s true, but his manner would probably reflect this view more accurately.
The Obama Experience
Here are the opening few minutes of his speech in good quality. For experiencing the communication of the President, you really only have to look at the first minute. It doesn’t change. (But look here to get the entirety in less quality.)
- Boring – He has no passion or emotion. Granted he is talking policy and he will be quoted and dissected, but a little passion in voice and face now and then would help his believability and influence immeasurably. And he had no stories or SHARPS that would make his message stick.
- Cadence – Ever since Fred Armison on Saturday Night Live got his cadence down while playing Obama, I can’t look at the President himself and not think of Armison. It is a rhythm that becomes sing-song, and contrived, and does not lead to a feeling of conviction and authenticity. Which leads us to…
- Professorial – It’s not just me that sees our President as more and more professorial (academic, informational and aloof) in both demeanor and presentation, it is becoming widespread. Professorial is fine in the classroom, not so fine on the playing field. That is not the communication of a leader.
I could go on, but this is already too much politics for an ‘objective’ communications blog. But thanks for the prompt Michael – this gets the juices flowing.
More importantly, what do YOU think?