Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The President we’ve got

The words are practiced, polished, prevaricated, poll-tested, and practiced some more. He spews forth the concoctions of his army of wordsmiths, who’ve been tasked to be upbeat and visionary, heedless of truth, mindless of reality. Will there be any mention of the dead folks who’ve paid the price of our war-mongering foreign policy? Will he take this opportunity to ask the rest of us whether we’re better off now than we were in 2000?

I’m afraid I won’t know until I read it in tomorrow’s paper, because I lack the intestinal fortitude to listen to him ape the words—I’d prefer dueling Shopsmiths with dull blades shrieking, or a horde of Harleys racing round my living room, or an army of garbage disposals grinding through cutlery; I simply cannot make myself listen to the State of the Union address, now more than ever before.

I am not alone in this. Not even political junkie extraordinaire Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo can stand to listen to this President’s plagiaristic blathering.

I want a leader who’s also an orator, someone who can write, stringing his own thoughts into a coherent whole, and I think the absence of such leaders has everything to do with the sorts of “leadership” we’re presented with these days—if they can’t tell us what they’re thinking, how do we know they’re thinking anything at all? If they can’t rationally speak their minds, why would we believe that they’re capable of rational thought?

Why do we not expect our leaders to write their own speeches anymore? Why do we give them just as much credit for hiring out this all-important task of their leadership? Why don’t we consider the hiring of outside speechwriters to be the same sort of plagiarism as when a college student buys a term paper on-line?

How can I judge the reasoning and thinking ability of someone who never demonstrates to the world what they’re able to do, with their own mind, with their own intellect? I learn less by listening to him speechify on matters of grave substance than I would if he were reading from Green Eggs and Ham, and the latter would be more pleasurable.

Follow-up: Now it turns out that the “Leader of the Free World” was a tad confused, and didn’t really mean what he actually said, in spite of having spent copious amounts of time and effort on being told what to say and how to say it. According to his aides, we should not take his statements “literally” (ever?) which really makes me wonder why we ever bother listening. Conserve your breath, Mr. Bush, if your words have no meaning. There’s really no point in wasting our time, or yours.


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