Archive for the ‘American Exceptionalism’ Category

I couldn’t believe this was real when I just saw it on Hardball…no, it’s not JibJab. This is real, from the Huckster.

Here’s what Wonkette has to say.

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Two years ago I prepared a presentation for the National Communication Association on the rhetorical parallels between Ronald Reagan and the newly elected President, Barack Obama. I was coming off the campaign trail myself, having served as communications director for David Kurkowski, the Democratic candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd District. We were up against a seven-term incumbent, Frank LoBiondo, whose popular image, pork barrell projects (and massive stockpile of cash) made him a formidable opponent. We ran an agressive campaign and gave LoBiondo the toughest challenge of his career, but even the Obama tide wasn’t enough to put us over the top.

In my own speechwriting and message strategy with Dave, I followed Obama’s model, and in doing so I also realized I was following the Reagan model. In the analysis here I am focused on Obama’s campaign rhetoric, not the more mangerial, impersonal communication style that he seemed to switch to after he was elected. In part, one must conclude that this switch was due to a misperception by Obama that “governing” is not the same as running a campaign. Actually, it is; whether campaigning for election, or campaigning for a health care bill, or campaigning to maintain suppport for a war in Afghanistan…it is always about campaigning, about persuasion.

With the re-hiring of David Plouffe and a distinct recalibration of the White House communication strategy there are signs Obama may be returning to the Reaganesque style that propelled him to office two years ago. His Tuscon speech struck all of the right notes, and aprt comparisons were made to Reagan’s Challenger speech. The State of the Union fell short, though, and as I blogged earlier missed far too many rhetorical opporunities.

On Reagan’s 100th Birthday, it is worth a look back, though, at how Obama’s campaign followed the Gipper’s playbook. Let’s hope he sticks with it.

I. Obama’s Nevada Interview

Barack Obama had been an established figure on the political stage, let alone a presidential candidate, for quite some time before a remarkable interview he conducted with the Reno Gazette-Journal prior to the “Super Tuesday” primaries in 2008. His keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Party National Convention thrust him into the public eye, generated comparisons to some of the most acclaimed convention speeches of the past, and attracted the attention of scholars of rhetoric and communication.

What made news in the hour-long Reno interview was a short segment that finds Obama implicitly comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. Here is part of the relevant passage:

I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.


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I posted today on POLITICO about the continuing presence of the so-called “Birthers,” and how the conservative movement is without a leader of sufficient stature, or desire, to shut them down. It reminds me of a conversation I had with Edwin Meese a couple of years ago. After an hour of reviewing and debating several points of Constitutional Law, I asked him how he could countenance the hyperbolic and often offensive rhetoric of his former aide Mark Levin. “Well, Mark has a different audience,” Meese said. Even when that “different audience” is spewing vitriol and ranting irrationally, today’s conservatives are afraid to stand up and disown them.

Read my full article here, published on January 28, 2011.

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