What will be Obama’s rhetorical legacy? Writerliness.
January 05, 2017
A professor concludes the president has somehow maintained a "mystique," even after "thousands of telepromptings."
Writing in the current issue of N+1, George Blaustein offers a worthy socio-rhetorical analysis of President Obama’s speeches, concluding that on the one hand, “to take stock of Obaam’s speeches is to be overwhelmed by the prosaic demands of presidential oratory. … It is an immense corpus of grandeur and fluff.”
On the other hand, the University of Amsterdam American Studies professor writes (and demonstrates), “even after two terms and thousands of telepromptings, Obama’s speeches still have a mystique, and he retains a distinctive voice. Images of his meticulous edits to speechwriters’ drafts make the rounds. Some speeches are too important to be delegated: he has to write them himself. … The New York Times reports that Obama prefers to write these speeches at night, with a lonely legal pad and an austere snack of seven lightly salted almonds. These orations come to us as the lucubrations of a solitary wise man, grappling with American history, with race, with fate and freedom. They suggest writerliness.”