The hour is growing late, the campaign aides are growing weary, the candidates are growing grouchy and unfriendly toward criticism.
But somebody has to tell Barack Obama to stop referring to the audience by saying, “Many of you are probably thinking … probably worried … looking for answers.”
Obama, you’re a communication genius, but nobody’s perfect. Repeat after me: Nobody in your audience thinks of themselves as a “you all.” They think of themselves as “me,” and occasionally as “we.” So tell them: “You are probably thinking … worried … looking for answers.” Or say, "We are thinking, worried, looking." But not "you all," which turns you into an elite answer man and your fellow citizens into a kindergarten classroom.
And as for McCain … Jerry Tarver used to talk about a speaker "so pompous, he could walk out and say 'good morning,' and he seemed to be taking credit for it."
And so it is with McCain, who after every promise to "my friends," smiles like a Cheshire cat, as if the capital gains tax cut he proposed is a personal favor, as if it's coming out of his own pocket.
If I were a speech coach, I'd use these amazingly stubborn screw-ups to illustrate that even the most polished speakers can get much better.
But I'm not a speech coach, but instead, a sage observer of the human condition. And so my observation is that it's impossible to hide our character flaws over the long haul, and the best we can hope for is that people forgive us.
David, while I am totally with you on McCain’s incessant use of “my friends” (which made me want to put a hammer through my TV during the debates), and Obama’s “you all” probably annoys some people (though it doesn’t bug me personally) I do not believe either of these word crutches are the biggest problem the American people face.
In my opinion the biggest issue you have to overcome is the lazy ignorance of many of your voters.
The Canadian weekly news magazine Maclean’s did a story a week or so about Ohio, and how as a swing state it’s importance was being addressed by the two candidates.
The reporter was all over Ohio, and interviewed a number of Ohioans (is that right?) and the ignorance some of these people displayed was nothing short of breathtaking to me. I’ll give you two examples:
1) At a place called the “Dari-creme” the reporter spoke to “newlyweds Ron and Britany Greene both studying to be teachers.” Britany states that she plans to vote for McCain because “I’m a Democrat, but I’ve noticed that Obama is telling more lies.” When the reporter asks her for examples of said lies her response is “I can’t think of any right now.”
2) Then there’s Brooke Burton, 38 who was interviewed at her studies in the Paramount Beauty Academy, and where she says of Obama: “His middle name alone really bothers me.”
Truly, I don’t think the word pattern quirks of either candidate matter all that much if many of your countrypeople are making the decision of whom to vote for for President with these types of things informing them.
And before anyone out here slams me, I will freely admit that we probably have just as many ignorant, apathetic, lazy voters in Canada. The difference is that the leader we are electing here (today as it happens) is not the person who could potentially affect the rest of the world by his decisions.
I just think it is shameful that so many people take the right to vote, which people in other places DIE for, so casually and carelessly.
David Murray says
Of course you’re right that the “problem” I bring up pales in comparison to the one you bring up.
But I’m so tired of the one you bring up, I’m looking for smaller problems, whose solutions don’t require suicide.
Ah, I see. Well, carry on then!
Joan H. says
Davey, your thoughts led me to put down some of my own, which are far more random than yours, but still, it’s always nice when someone causes me to think enough to write. And write in a blog, no less! So thank you for your post today, and every day. I, too, hope for forgiveness.
At least your candidates have some personality, David (or at least one of them does). As Kristen noted, it’s voting day here in Canada. I love this country so much it hurts sometimes, but this may be the most boring election in our recent history – not because nothing is at stake and not because there aren’t issues to be addressed, but because we have some of the most uninspiring and uninteresting leaders ever to have their faces slapped on a campaign sign. I’m into politics, and even I have had a hard time paying attention for just the four weeks of our campaign period.
Lord knows the candidates are intelligent enough (or at least they seem to be), and it’s not that I think personality and charisma should be a real deciding factor in how we vote. But they are a deciding factor in whether or not a lot of people do vote at all. If we ever hope to engage people in any democratic political process anywhere, let alone consider actual issues, it sure helps if the people running are themselves engaging. And don’t even ask about the sorry state of political oratory up here…
Ron Shewchuk says
The thing that really kills me about both elections is the pandering to the middle class. The biggest issue of our society — of our lifetimes — is poverty and homelessness, and no one seems to want to do much, if anything, about the giant and growing gap between rich and poor in western society.
David Murray says
Bravo, Ron. We’ve gone whole presidential elections in the U.S. without hearing the word “poor.”
We’ve heard it this year, a few times, and only uttered by Obama, and only in the primary.
But Obama has worked in the poorest of the poor urban communities here and I don’t believe that someone who does that can ever completely forget. That’s my hope, anyway.
Joan: How do we find your blog, Sis?
Joan H. says
I posted in in myragan under blogs–joaniealaska, of course (I’m so original). I’ve been trying to post there with some semblance of regularity, attempting to mimic my hero (that’s you, David!). I don’t know if links to there work, but if they do, here it is:
David Murray says
Oh, right, yes; and a fine post that is.