Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why I am Bothered By Obama's Speech in Tuscon

Did you listen to President Obama's speech in Tucson to commemorate the deaths of those killed by that crazed gunman, Jared Lee Loughner?  What did you think?

Did you agree with the mostly glittering reviews in the news that this was one of Obama's finer moments as president, or did it leave you with some questions?

I don't hate President Obama -- I've never met him.  And I don't care much for the patriotic Republican flag-waving that George W. Bush was so famous for.  All partisan politics aside, here are the problems I personally had with the speech --

5. Obama's overly-intimate gushing over those killed --

Did Obama personally know the individuals affected by the shooting?  I don't think it's the President's job to comfort the "hole torn in [the nation's] heart" to this extent.  I find it disturbing, actually, to see the Commander-in-Chief waxing poetic with feel-good anecdotes about the individuals who were killed as if he knew each of them individually.

Don't get me wrong -- I think it is totally appropriate for these individuals to be remembered, and for there to be an amount of collective grief.  But I would prefer for my president to focus on defending the Constitution and protecting our borders from foreign entities, rather than making the post of the president "cool" as Obama once confessed was his "job", or into our nation's "comforter-in-chief". 

4. Freaky pep-rally crowd -- 

I am frankly embarrassed by many in attendance at the Tucson Rally, ahem, Memorial.   I found their over-enthusiasm to be in the presence of Obama, who used his "cult of personality" standing well, to be disconcerting.

Just take a look at the fervor of the crowd at the Tucson Memorial and their response to Obama --

Now compare it with the adoration of Hitler in yesteryear.  No, I am not saying Obama wants to gas the Jews or take over the world.  I am not even so much asking that you compare Obama to Hitler, who is clearly more fanatical in both the content of his speech as well as its delivery.  Just take a look at the adoring masses -- 

Scores of citizens adoring and practically swooning over their leader as a rock-star, sports-star, or any kind of star at all has no place in a society that wants to remain free.  We can show respect, even a measure of admiration for our leaders.  No need to deify them as is usually done in most modern totalitarian regimes.

3.  Obama quoting from the Bible --

In the course of his speech, President Obama quoted from the Book of Job.  He quoted from Psalms.  How convenient to quote from scripture at a time like this.

But how different was Obama's flowery Biblical rhetoric earlier today from a speech of his in 2006 before a crowd less-friendly toward religion, where Obama got giggles and grins from the audience as he blatantly mocked the Bible --

2. Pep-rally t-shirts to go with the pep-rally crowd -- 

Obama's 2012 Campaign Committee, I mean his staff, had 14,000 t-shirts draped across the seats in the auditorium for the attendees.  The very quickly-produced t-shirts were printed with what is apparently Obama's new slogan -- "Together We Thrive".

T-shirts with your logo or slogan?  It's a great marketing tool, that's for sure!  But I'm not sure what that has to do with the 6 people who died and are now in their coffins waiting for burial.

1.  Ah, the propaganda . . .

During the course of his 30-minute speech, President Obama called upon two tried-and-true gimmicks:

"Right after we went to visit her . . . Gabby opened her eyes for the first time (cheers of hysteria) . . .
Gabby opened her eyes for the first time  (intense clapping and cheering, camera pans to a verklempt Michelle Obama wiping tears from her eyes, hands clasped with that of Gifford's husband) . . .
Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you that she knows we are here. . . ."

Gimmick #1 -- Appeal to your audience's emotions through stories.
Gimmick #2 -- Repetition of a key phrase over and over.

Reminiscent of the famous ad nauseum "Yes we can" speech, Obama knows that tactics like this can be really appealing to an audience.  Just like those commercials that tell a story of how someone uses their American Express card on their dream vacation to Tahiti.  And the repetition reminds me of car insurance commercials  where the phone number is annoyingly repeated over and over. 

The story evokes an emotional response, while repetition cements the message into the mind.  Repetition of an emotional phrase serves to drive that emotion deep into the listener's core.  It can put flutters in the heart and mist in the eyes of even the most cynical of critics.  And it is one of Obama's specialties.


Obama is not the first U.S. president to capitalize on a national tragedy for political gain, and he probably won't be the last.  But as of yet, he certainly has been one to pull out all the stops.  Is he a Master Communicator, Master Marketer, or a Master Propagandist? 

It's obvious what I think.  You decide for yourself.


  1. Julie, this is a very well thought out and written post, thank you for sharing your opinions and observations, and for being passionate about your beliefs! It's refreshing to have some "new age-ie" friends who think outside of the political box (a rarity) of both liberalism and traditional conservatism. Be well my friend!

  2. Thanks, Nate! I appreciate your vote of confidence! I don't necessarily consider myself "New Age-ie" so much, though. But yes -- my beliefs are all over the board! =)