Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Shameless Self-Promotion and Tuesday’s Speeches

I will be speaking tomorrow night at 7 at Bowdoin College in Maine on "The Greatness and Misery of Our Bourgeois Bohemians" OR "Why Productivity Trumps Autonomy Every Time" OR "Why Libertarian Self-Actualization is an Oxymoron."

On the speeches: The most obvious FACT is that our president spoke well and with confidence. Another obvious fact is that Bobby Jindal sounded like a nervous assistant guidance counselor speaking to fifth graders and said nothing memorable at all. The governor was much better on the TODAY show in getting his message across about why he was turning down a portion of the stimulus. He has a lot of rhetorical work to do, and PETE should volunteer to be his speech writer. Our president didn’t inspire confidence in me because words don’t really trump deeds. I’ve already explained why I think his key policies are misguided. But the MSM fawned and fawned, and there are good reasons why ordinary Americans distrust the stimulus but still trust the MAN.

Discussions - 13 Comments

Good reasons? And they are?

But hey, Peter, at least you've redeemed yourself from commenter Ben's complaint that you are a SHAMEFUL BLOGGER for not commenting on every last damn thing that happens in our feverish merry-go-round of politics.

Trust me Ben, it won't be long before the very last thing you want to read is yet another analysis of yet another high-flown Obama speech-event.

The coverage was almost unbearable, and in some obvious ways, made it very hard for Jindal to follow Obama. Also, the content of Jindal's message was difficult to craft rhetorically in a way that wouldn't be inherently dissapointing irrespective of delivery--after the spectacle of an applause filled room eletrified by hopeful platitudes Jindal had to assume the role of the spoiler. Still, his speech was clearly overrehearsed and the delivery ruined by nervousness.
A bigger problem here is seen in the fact that Jindal's speech was conspicously out of character--despite being dubbed the next Reagan by Rush he's more policy wonk than purveyor of grand ideas, more likely to push hard policy positions than craft personal narrative, more likely to dispense bitter medicine than pander to a jittery public. If the GOP is to have any strategy other than wait expectantly for O to fail, they have to figure out how to sell the truth without selling the gloom and become a party of practical alternatives versus competing to be even more hallmark inspirational than their opponents. Jindal's speech was a bad caricature of an Obama one and I have seen him do better numerous times on his own terms

And Peter is right to point out the key fact that Obama inspires confidence right now despite general suspicion about his stimulus bill--this is a testament to his personal charm and the success of a rhetoric general enough to be difficult to criticize substantively and platitudinous enough to superfically satisfy a broad swath of the political spectrum. He's also managed to demonize those groups that clearly aren't inspired with confidence (the market) or to intellectually maginalize them (republicans). More than anything else, the GOP folks need to craft a clear, coherent, and popularly digestible message that doesn't come across as nitpicking for the sake of gratitous opposition. So it makes sense that the GOP version of the stimulus bill looked lik a moment of snarky carping since it was only marginally improved--at the very least, when legislative failure seems all but inevitable, they need an unambiguous record of principled and constructive opposition to reference later when no stimulation is forthcoming

You are all out of touch with the common man you speak of if you think they actually share the media's viewpoint. Voting for Obama, for most people, was not a liscence for him do whatever he wanted it was just the choice between douche or turd that they made. They have zero faith in him or any other crook on capitol hill. The proles I saw watching the speech were skeptical and making fun of it. The quote from an african American gentleman was everybody come on out and stand in the welfare line. Don't assume that just because they are doing these things that they have any sort of backing from the people. As Karl Rove reminded folks, we tell you what reality is.

On a comical note, did anyone else think Pelosi looked a lot like Deloris Umbridge smiling behind the minister of magic last night. I will not tell lies.

On the Jindal speech,

1. The staging was terrible and put him in a can't win situation. He looked like a guy standing in a hallway, reading off cue cards and having mic trouble. He needs a Mike Deaver.

2.Ivan is right that Jindal is better at the policy thing than the vision thing, but he nedds the vision thing too.

3. Republicans should think about putting their responses in front of a live audience. I remember when Christie Whitman (an indifferent speaker) gave the GOP response to a Clinton speech and I though it helped.

4. If he wants me sure, but hiring the likes of me would not help his reputation for brains.

5. His speech did have the outlines of something useful with its focus on faith in the abilities of individuals and local communities and with an emphasis on the limits of government that doesn't go into libertarian hyperbole.

On the Obama speech,

1. Sometimes it is like watching a great magic trick. He just signed the giant, bloated stimulus bill and he says he will be frugal with the taxpayer dollar. He comes out against earmarks and is about to sign a bill with thousands of earmarks. He is running the biggest Big Government administration in forty years and argues that he isn't a big government guy. AND WHEN HE SAYS IT, ITS PLAUSIBLE. He really is a master of rhetoric but a large part of his public persona really is a self-serious fraud. That is a major potential vulnerability. There is a lot of air in the Obama bubble that could be let out if only someone could find the right needle.

2. The best way to puncture Obama's inflated image would be through humor. The problem is that most of the conservative satire of Obama is so over-the-top and mean spirited about being The One and stuff. It reminds me of all those 1980s liberal "jokes" about Reagan being stupid or a warmonger. They were worthless for bringing people over to your side because it was really just a way for the likeminded to amuse and comfort each other. For the jabs at Obama to work they are going to have to be sharp AND good natured. William F. Buckley and especially Reagan were masters at this kind of humor. We are really missing them now.

3. The cap and trade policy is a tax on anyone who uses electricity with much of the money going to the politically connected. There is oppurtunity for some populism on the issue.

On Bowdoin College,

You'll only be like 5 minutes from my in-laws!

Pete--I'm with you on the vision thing but appealing to first principles and a grander theoretical/historical vision is not necessarily the same as selling your own journey of personal discovery. In some sense, Obama has managed to soften his own ideological leanings by presenting them in the context of inspirational autobiography (and it's hard for me to imagine him writing a book that wasn't a memoir). Jindal's personal narrative came across as wooden one upsmanship. I would love it if we had more guys with Obama's personal charm but for those who don;t it's not a good idea to go the route of contrived emulation

Ivan, you are right and Jindal can't be the conservative Obama and win out. He can't even be the modern Reagan either. He is going to have to sell is vision of limited government and social conservatism in a way that is authentic to Bobby Jindal. He is great at explaining how those principles apply to particular situations but at some point in the modern media environment, poetry as well as prose is demanded of a candidate at the top level. I haven't really seen him do that well even when he looked really good. I though I saw a bit of that in his talk about the competence and decency of American individuals and communities. Maybe that can form the frame through which he explains his principles to the American people.

I think conservative voice sean hannity would be angry with the less than flattering remarks about the GOP candidate in 2012. I think he called you all fake conservatives. As for the live audience, why not save money and just thrown in some stock audio. With the pointing out of Obama's contradictions its just showing that we are in Orwell's distopia. This man is engaging in double think and getting away with it.

I didn't think the Jindal speech was as bad as everyone's saying. My moderate wife liked it, BTW. It wasn't a home-run, sure. But it put a guy on base. It drew people down from Obama-land. It was not shaky or odd in any obvious, W-like, way.

And the Republican attitude should be that Jindal is just another promsing young Republican anyhow. Too much expectation has been shoved on him already...

Given the times, we needed a home-run. I think what Daniel Henninger said about Obama making radical proposals is quite true. Conservatives apparently have no way to counter his radicalism effectively. If that is the case, we are stuck with it more totally than I find comfortable.

I want to be able to count on the natural inclinations of Americans to individual liberty and such embraceable ideas that we think of as conservative. Americans do not see those ideals as conservative, anymore. In addition, Americans do not see the connection between liberty and law or policy so clearly.

Maybe no one is going to be able to persuasively change the terms of the debate. We badly need that vision thing. Without which, we might as well reconcile ourselves to change on Obama's terms.

Maybe I have another question. Every time Obama or his team make an economic pronouncement the Dow drops another 300 points. It is now headed for a bottom below what has been considered the bottom. With that, there will be automatic sells triggered, which will force the market even lower. How low? We had a crash. We are living with that. We now seem to be looking at the hole in the bottom of the sea.

My question is, is Obama just stupid about this, or is he doing this on purpose? Given his radical speechifying I am becoming inclined to the latter proposition.

From the 1% of HuffPo entries worth reading.. for all of you viewers of 30 Rock.
Jindall">Jindall">">Jindall with Kenneth

Carl might be my favorite moderate conservative (and I use moderate in the Aristotle rather than the Susan Collins sense of the word). The out party responses to these kinds of presidential speeches are almost always artistic and substantive trainwrecks. Its just that no one notices, no one cares and no one reads much into it regarding the prospects of the person doing the responding. Having said that, Jindal did not make a compelling case either on policy or principles (though I think he did a little better there)and his delivery wasn't that good. It was a missed oppurtunity.

Carl is also right that many conservative have invested alot in Jindal (and with some good reason), and maybe too much. The last major wave of conservative reform in the 1990s is associated with Gingrich, but alot of the actual accomplishments were done by the Englers, Thompsons, and Giulianis. Its been a long time since conservatives have seen a conservative politician in the national arena that isn't a retread and they are now in the wilderness. It is also easier to picture politics being transformed through the brilliance and character of one great leader than through patient, diffused, organizing over years and years. Having said all that there are really good reasons to like Jindal. On policy he is the anti-McCain. He knows what he is talking about and is able to connect it to people's lives. He has a record of accomplishment so far, and we can reasonably hope he will have an even better one three years from now. If he doesn't we won't be talking about him. He is masterful answering questions and there is good reason to think that he will get better in set speeches - which will usually be under better circumstances than Tuesday night.

Steven's linked roasting of Gov. Jindal was uncomfortably close.

The real pity of this, the uncomfortable truth is that even if Gov. Jindal's principles and policies are all we could hope, those seem not to be self-evident truths to much of America any more. It seems such a shame that a simply marvelous idea like the essential rightness of self-government in a republic needs a good sales-pitch or some marketing genius to put it across to the American people.

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