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March 19, 2004

Maybe He's Better on Paper

Listening to a short clip of John Kerry on the radio yesterday, I had exactly the reaction that Lileks describes in this paragraph:

I heard four speeches this week — one by Carville before some firefighters, screaming like cat that had been dipped in turpentine; one from Kerry about something or other (it's hard to stick with it; he sounds like a 45 RPM record played at 33 1/, and you keep making revolving-hand motions in the hopes you can somehow, like a butterfly that flutters its wings in Brazil and causes typhoons in Tahiti, cause him to pick up the pace a little); one from Dick Cheney, and one from Bush. Cheney's speech was tailor-made for his speaking style, which consists of pressing the point of the sword into the opponant's arguments and slowly pushing the entire blade in with steady force. Bush's speech had many thick sheets of boilerplate, but it had economy and optimism.

Let's hope the outcome in November allows us to avoid four-hour State of the Union speeches!

Posted by Justin Katz at March 19, 2004 1:03 PM

Thanks for noting this. Arrgh...I don't think I can take it for eight more months. Kerry talks like he has already speaking from Mt. Rushmore and I find it distracting to the point where it gets in the way of my being able to pay attention to what he is trying to say. Did statesmen in U.S. history necessarily SOUND like Statesmen? I remember hearing somewhere that John Adams' voice was always very low and that Benjamin Franklin's voice sometimes got almost squeakily high.

Posted by: David Morrison at March 19, 2004 3:02 PM

Good line about Mt. Rushmore! Another thought I had, listening to Kerry, was that it sounded as if he moved his lips only with difficulty.

I used to have a manager who spoke very softly and with a lot of what seemed to be deliberate instances of "umm" and "uh." We eventually decided that he was trying to hypnotize us. Perhaps Kerry's doing something similar: leaving space into which the bored listener can insert whatever message it is he wants to hear.

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 19, 2004 3:07 PM