As the great speechwriting teacher and gentleman farmer Jerry Tarver once told me from personal experience, "David, when you have a bulldozer, every problem looks like something to be pushed over."
A freelance speechwriter blogger wrote yesterday,"What happened on the way from the campaign based on hope to a White House based on fear and pessimism? … He did a 180 from lifting the nation's spirit to scaring the daylights out of us with dark rhetoric."
A good question, with a number of potential answers, the most obvious one being that hope is the currency of a campaigner, but hope don't sell an $800 million stimulus package. Obama knows as well as anyone that a leader is a dealer in hope, and I hope and trust he finds the first opportunity to tell us at the very least some version of the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
"The solution?" suggests our speechwriter. "There's only one I know of and which I recommend for leaders who are no longer leading. That's to get a speech coach, Bro. And maybe also a fresh speechwriter.
"Note: I do both. And, Mr. President. I will do both, pro bono to save the country—and the economy. Today the DOW was down almost 300."
Most communicators don't actually believe they can improve their leaders' fortunes, let alone keep the stock market afloat, by pretending to be more optimistic. (As if the leader hasn't thought of that!)
Most of us understand that ours is a supporting role—irreplaceable and occasionally crucial—in helping society along.
But because we're rhetoricians, leaders and others in our organizations are naturally disposed to view us as bulldozer operators in a china shop, and it's why they don't bring us in on the tough stuff.
So it's painful to see someone, anyone, reinforce it, especially by way of offering her own services to "save the country—and the economy."
How about, save your breath.