Daily Archives: January 11, 2007

Bush’s Speech: The Affect

“Frig it, he’s gonna do it his way.” – Lenny Bruce, talking about a lower court judge who ignored the Supreme Court’s obscenity ruling to send Lenny to jail on obscenity charges.

That about sums it up. That and the somewhat self-evident observation that what he basically said was, “I’m going to change my strategy in Iraq by not changing my strategy in Iraq”, which is more or less what we should have expected from a man who cannot admit and does not believe he’s wrong.

I’m not going to bother tearing this silly, purblind speech apart. Others will do that better than I. I suspect Juan Cole will have something to say about it. Certainly Eric Martin will. [Update: The Wege has a round-up, and as usual, it’s a great set of links.] And both – along with many others all over the blogosphere – will be more cogent and penetrating than I could.

What struck me most was a surprising lack of passion and conviction. Bush spoke like a robot, barely inflecting. He made not the slightest attempt to acknowledge in his demeanor that he needed to persuade us of the wisdom of his plan. He looked stiff, uncomfortable, and he didn’t sound as if even he believed what he was saying. He was careful with his pronunciation (I’m not sure but I think he pronounced “nuclear” correctly for the first time in his life), speaking like a bifurcated student making a speech in front of the class who’s scared of making a mistake the teacher is going to lower his mark for and at the same time not giving a damn if she does. It was lackluster, punchless, pro forma. The speech was stilted and so was his delivery. He might have been talking to an empty chair. Continue reading