Although inevitable, I can’t believe the day has come. President Obama presented his farewell address. Every politician has his/her pros & cons and opposition & supporters. But whatever your opinion is about President Obama, he sure knows how to deliver a speech.
Obama’s current speechwriter, Cody Keenan, followed Jon Favreau’s footsteps in 2013 as White House director of speechwriting. Don’t be disappointed by the fact that Obama doesn’t write his own speeches. He has a country to run and let’s be honest, speeches of this caliber take some time to transfer from mind to paper. There is nothing new about Presidents depending on speechwriters. The difference for me personally, between Obama’s speeches and those of previous President’s, is that they consist of a variety of so many levels. They are clever, humorous at times, critical and inspired by a mix of famous historic speeches and current pop culture. And most importantly, they match Obama’s off-speech way of talking.
His speeches present a clever mix of notes inspired by speeches given by John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela, referring to the importance of equality and human rights. His way of talking seems inspired by Martin Luther King, giving them the emotional depth of preach. The referrals to modern pop culture show an appreciation of the arts and their ability to inspire.
Although I opted to give Trump the benefit of the doubt in my previous post. Or at least to listen to him and his supporters with an open mind. I can’t help comparing the two by the level of intellect presented through their speeches. To be honest, I am a bit of a speech nut. I love a good speech and get chills every time I hear a poorly formulated speech by any high official. So after watching Obama’s farewell address I had to do some comparing. What better way to do so than by putting the opening lines of the presidential acceptance speeches next to one another.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
“Thank you very much, everyone.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.
“Complicated business, complicated.
“Thank you very much.”
When some of your first words as President-Elect are “complicated business, complicated”, it makes me wonder how you will handle the presidency. Time will tell. But let’s not focus on the negatives and the what-ifs. Instead, let’s have a look at the “bubble” segment of the farewell address. This part really got to me since it’s exactly what I tried to say in my previous post. Like I said: I was only aware of the increase of my own needs to promote equality, globalization, open borders and unity as a response to the aggressive and negative news features and spoken words of those supporting the opposite ideas. At the same time I was completely oblivious to the fact that I, and many others, are the co-creators of the opinions of these oppositions.. just like they are the co-creators of mine. How can I preach equality when I take their worries and values for granted.
But due to my obvious lack of having a professional speech writer at hand, Obama puts it so much clearer.
“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste — all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.
And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. But politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter — then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible.”