Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Speech! Speech!

NEW YORK, New York -- It's done. The oaths have been given, the Bushes have been choppered off to the brushlands of Texas. (Well, not really.) And Barack Obama gave a fairly lackluster speech.

Why was it so lame? Some reports quoted Obama's press secretary saying the new president wrote the speech last weekend, while others said Obama and his "boy-wonder" speechwriter had collaborated for months. Given the inaugural speech's reliance on fuzzy generalities and flat prose, my money says John Favreau, the wundaboy, wrote it -- and that Obama should look for a new writer, someone more on his own level (assuming his race speech was his own material). I mean, what the hell does it mean to "harness the power of the sun and the wind"? I wanted Obama to yell out, "I am Master of the Waters!" or strike the Hellespont a la Xerxes. As the Legionnaire put it, it sounded like the speech was written by "a twenty-something who was watching Charlton Heston movies." And the rhetoric about how we will "live on," "unbroken" as a people? How our children must inherit freedom? Are we facing a recession or a vodka-soaked debate with Igor Panarin?

This isn't all that's sloppy

And finally, thematically this thing was all over the keister. We had talk about recession, but Obama couldn't focus on that, instead moving to the abstraction of "stormy weather," then insisting the country wouldn't fall off the face of the earth. Mix that in with responsibility -- but don't link them -- and how America is capable of unspecified great projects, which (also without specifics) it's undertaken in the past. It was all over the place, long-winded, meandering and vague. Favreau, you need to get back to work and stop drinking with cardboard cutouts of Hillary.

(After initial breathless praise for the speech by most media other than Slate and TNR, even CNN is now beginning to note that the speech wasn't so hot.)

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