The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Great Communicator?

Powerline has some unexpected praise for George Bush:
When was the last time an American president laid out his philosophy, his strategy and his vision in such a series of speeches? For over three years now, Bush has given one after another: eloquent, determined, clear and persuasive. When collected, they may represent the most substantial body of speeches delivered by any President since Lincoln.

I can't immediately judge the truth of this, but it is certainly out of line with my preconceptions. And Mr. Hinderaker's view is certainly not universally held; this would be more typical. Kevin Drum asserted last year that Bush's inarticulacy was increasing (can't find the post) and speculated on the causes. Tony Blair is generally regarded by war supporters as a far more articulate proponent (e.g., here).

For example, in the speech which prompted Mr. Hinderaker's praise, Bush said:
When a dictatorship controls the political life of a country, responsible opposition cannot develop, and dissent is driven underground and toward the extreme. And to draw attention away from their social and economic failures, dictators place blame on other countries and other races, and stir the hatred that leads to violence. This status quo of despotism and anger cannot be ignored or appeased, kept in a box or bought off, because we have witnessed how the violence in that region can reach easily across borders and oceans. The entire world has an urgent interest in the progress, and hope, and freedom in the broader Middle East.

All true, certainly. But these same dictatorships are not without their own tools and weapons, including the old chestnut of "uniting" their countries against American "meddling". Bush's speeches stir hope and show that this cause can be noble, but their inspirational tone makes them less effective as calls to concrete action, and easier for any opponents to cynically dismiss.