How effective would persuasive speech be if one were to talk like a 19th century telegram? “If you buy this product-stop-you will be much better off because of the many benefits-stop.” You get the point. It’s obvious to the casual observer that no one would be convinced to buy the product.
So here’s my question: how did President Barack Obama think he would persuade people to vote for him by carrying out last Wednesday’s debate in telegraph style?
Interjecting his speech with constant “ums,” “uhs” and “ahems,” the Obama on stage seemed like a zombie of the one we have seen speak eloquently before us for the past four years.
The American people have lauded Obama as an excellent persuasive speaker since before he took office, but, during the first of three presidential debates, Obama only managed to persuade viewers that he did not want to be at that podium.
He refused to look Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the eye. He smirked when Romney made a point that he disagreed with. What most undermined his message was the complete and total absence of rhetoric; a void that Obama filled with a halting, telegram-like style that had observers shouting, “Spit it out already!”
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, seemed to have forgotten the childhood lesson of not interrupting someone who is talking. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with someone, and it doesn’t matter if they are running against you in the 2012 Presidential race, it is rude and immature to continue interrupting someone, especially in front of such a large audience.
Moderator Jim Lehrer, however incompetent he may have been at actually moderating, asked only direct, to-the-point questions, yet both Obama and Romney had trouble focusing on the topic.
When Romney was asked about what he would do as president to aid the legislative functions of the federal government, he talked about his past actions as governor of Massachusetts. Obama, upon being questioned about his thoughts on trickle-down government, started sending more audial telegrams about education.
If nothing else, Wednesday night’s debate was entertaining, with plenty of hot topics and water cooler moments.
However, it lacked professionalism and, I, at least, was left to wonder if we really want either of these men leading our country.
Whether Romney was snapping at Lehrer like a sass-mouthed kid, or Obama was referring to “a whole bunch of stuff” that he would get rid of, the language of the debate seemed, to me, much less proficient than Americans ought to expect from their future leader.
I look forward to the next debate in hopes that both men will take the time to present their material in a manner more suited to a prospective world leader.