Did you watch Pres. Obama’s speech Tuesday?

Did you understand it? The much-anticipated speech from the Oval Office did not receive rave reviews. Paul J.J. Payak, of Global Language Monitor, says the speech may have been too professorial — or the audience may have been too dumb. I added that last part, just so you know. The speech was written at a tenth-grade level (which is pretty advanced, considering newspapers have traditionally been aimed at fourth-graders).

Agree? Disagree? Wanna arm-wrestle over it?

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    1. Political commentary — my favorite thing to write — still pisses me off.

  1. Rachel Maddow did a rewrite and gave her version last night — unfortunately I couldn’t stay awake that late. I’ll have to check the re-runs on YouTube later!

  2. I just didn’t feel he had the ‘fire in the belly” about this topic.

    We do have to consider that there are all sorts of legal ramifications regarding this spill. It’s going to keep an army of lawyers very well-fed for years to come. So, he had to be careful in what he said.

    And was it pre-taped? The trees outside the Oval Office window looked as if it were daytime. However, I’m sure that the White House grounds are well lit at night.

    1. I don’t look to Obama for fire in the belly. I think he’s far more methodical than that, and most of his speeches reflect that. I may agree or disagree with what he said, but I don’t expect “Yes We Can” every time he leans into a mike.

  3. “I just didn’t feel he had the ‘fire in the belly” about this topic.”

    A lot of people seem to be disappointed that he is so cool in his presentation. I’m not sure why that calm is a bad thing. Whether I agree or not with whatever he’s saying, that demeanor suggests to me that a lot of thought has gone into what he’s saying.

    1. There’s a place for calm coolness–witness LBJ’s demeanor after JFK was shot.

      And there’s a place for “I’m damn pissed off!!”

      Not saying that the latter attitude would be appropriate. It was in the Oval Office, after all. Maybe he should have given his speech on the Gulf Coast, with the oil globs lapping the shore.

  4. You know…I don’y want to sound like an Obama apologist…because…well….you know I’m not. But what could the man say?

    He’s up to his armpits in an unprecedented ecological catastrophe. He can’t really be specific because the full extent of the disaster isn’t known…to anybody. He needed to communicate a sense of leadership. Make some vague and ambiguous promises followed up with the usual environmental responsibility crap to mollify an outraged electorate. Save a little face. Let Congress take on the people he expects a nice contribution from the next election cycle. A totally predictable and understandable political move.

    But, to me, the real stunner is leaking the 10th grade level thing to the press. I thought the last press conference, (where he came off sounding like Al Haig…“I am in control!”) was a political disaster. But the fact he geared his statement to a 10th grade audience is a political blunder the likes of which I haven’t seen since “I did not have sex with that woman”, or “Your President is not a crook”.
    It’s almost as if he wants to add fuel to the Teabagger fire. He needs to replace his staff…ASAP…if he has any hopes of a second term. I mean…this even goes beyond Hoover’s “Prosperity is just around the corner”, which he’s been paraphrasing for about a year now.

    But this weeks merit badge for bullshit goes to Payak.

    1. That’s going to hurt his feelings, I think. And what would be the picture on the merit badge?

      I agree that the speech served a purpose and if it didn’t move me to go out and save the world, well, I’m an ignoramus if I’m looking to someone else to inspire me to do that.

            1. Wow. I did not see that coming. But good. He’s not my favorite item on the menu.

  5. So….what grade-level is this blog?

    Frankly, I don’t get why the tenth-grade level thing even made it to the news. It is nearly impossible, I think, to say something of substance at a fourth or fifth grade level when you need to address a complex problem such as the oil spill.

    Last semester, I had to create a flyer like paper for the general population (we were told 5th grade), that explained a medical condition. I had a tool that would evaluate it and spit out the grade level. After many revisions, I finally got it down to about a sixth grade level. I might as well just said to grab your teddy and take a nap with all the content that needed to be eliminated or altered.

    1. You know…I go to a lot of sites when I’ve got the time and I read a lot of comments. I think the literacy rate of the commenters here is way above average…WAY above avereage…

      Its the speeling that suks.

      And I don’t fault Obama, or any politician, for crafting a speech in such a fashion as to communicate to the largest possible segment of the electorate in the most efficient way possible. (I’m going to avoid the easy shots at GW here.) But to have it made an issue in the press is just..well…stupid.

      1. Right. When about 2 million gallons of oil is gushing into the ocean each day, you would think that a detail like that may not be worthwhile. Yet… here we are talking about it. Damn! People will talk about almost anything and people includes me. Double Damn!

    2. ” It is nearly impossible, I think, to say something of substance at a fourth or fifth grade level ”

      Interesting. A century ago (well, it seems that way) I worked for an insurance company “writing” the booklets that accompanied the more jargon-rich certificates of insurance, and we were told to aim at 8th grade levels. Have things dropped since then? Is that a dumb question?

      1. I don’t know. Maybe some topics need to be written at a higher level in order to justify writing anything at all.

    3. This blog runs about third-grade level. The author is not-bright. Is this grade-level program online? I wanna go play with it.

        1. Wow. By this measure? The Preamble is post-graduate. And the first few paragraphs of my Sunday column are seventh-grade level. Yow! I’m an idiot!

      1. By a strange series of coincidences, my teddy bear, which I thought was lost forever, came back to me recently. The bear — if I ever named the thing, I forgot that name — is now sitting on my couch in my office. He’s seen better days, but then, so have I.

    1. “Oil spill bad. Make them pay. Feel your pain. Make us not need oil!”

      Wow, it’s like you’re channeling Bush Sr.! Linguistically, anyway; I couldn’t see him saying anything negative about oil. After all, “Wouldn’t be prudent.”

  6. If his performance, and approval ratings keep dropping he may be a lame duck president the last two years of his term.

    He truly looks over-matched, under qualified, and he’s certainly seems to have lost his swaggar. I guess not having executive experience, and a paper-thin resume is starting to catch up with The First Golfer.

    Kyle-Anne Shiver today uses a brilliant analogy in her “Are Liberals Breaking Up With Obama?” essay.


    1. Yes, Kyle-Anne Shiver is brilliant, and the bulk of the comments (read ’em, people, you’re in for a treat) weren’t written by morons.


  7. I didn’t watch it and didn’t read, but I did read about it. If this isn’t the time to hammer home the message “Make us not need oil!” with some good, concrete proposals to send to Congress yesterday, I don’t know what is.

    The Bush-Cheney White House had the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act ready for Congress to ram down our throats within days of 9/11/01. A month and a half later it was signed into law. Where’s our new energy policy? Where are the “green jobs”? Where’s the $upport for local and regional mass transit? When do we stop subsidizing new highways?

    1. Excellent point. Of course, that “patriotic” BS is popular in this culture, and any suggestion that we give up our love of oil is emphatically not.

      1. I just watched Jon Stewart’s riff on the speech and the whole oil dependence thing, going back at least 8 presidents. It’s depressing. We really do have a national death wish.

  8. Perhaps Obama dragged his feet on this whole BP mess because the fine folks at BP donated a record 750 million dollars to Obama’s 2007-2008 campaign.

    Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahn Emanuel also took in some BP love. It seems that BP advisor, Stanley Greenberg, (husband of CT Rep Democrat Rosa DeLauro) gave Emanuel a DC apartment rent-free for five years!

    Something smells fishy here…


    1. Sadly, I’m sure that’s a big factor–not just from BP, but from all the Big Oil multi-nationals. Look at what they’ve done to the Niger delta, and it feels like we’re getting off easy. The corruption goes all the way back to post-WWII years. Probably all the way back to the first oil wells in North America. (There’s some dispute about which was truly first.)

  9. One day, long ago, when I was in college, I was struggling through Charles Dickens – David Copperfield. I say “struggling” because at the time I didn’t have a lot of experience with classic literature – I have since learned to devour it… I’ve noticed that the more you read, the better you get at reading, even when you’re an adult!

    Anyway, my grandfather walked through the room, saw what I was reading, and said, casually, on his way out, “Oh, good book! We read it in 4th grade.”

    That moment will always sum things up for me – as readers, we Americans have become a whole lot dumber. And the fact that we even have to have this conversation about what grade level our leader had to address us in just make me profoundly sad.

    1. Fourth grade. Jaysus. I was just jettisoning Sally, Dick and Jane in fourth grade. I still miss them, the lil’ scamps.

    1. Points for catching your grammatical error. Most of us don’t bother. Speeling, either.

      1. Some busybody computer gremlin underlines my spelling errors in red as I type. (Not sure where it came from; part of Firefox maybe?) Doesn’t help with homophones, though, which I notice are a large percentage of online errors, including mine.

            1. I’m honored you’d think I was playing. There is an entire sea of grammar in which I don’t swim. I must have missed that day at school. You may think I’m kidding. I am not.

              1. I have to back up DJ on this one – plenty of awesome writers cannot tell a piece of grammar from a piece of bacon – these are the folks who write well in an instinctive way. I only know this because I was forced to take an intensive grammar class in college so that I could work in the writing lab. All of us in the class were good writers, but the class almost killed us. We went in arrogant and came out properly humbled by the English language.

                1. How funny that my comment started this thread, because I count myself among the grammatically illiterate. I found this out when I took an introductory French class. How could I expect to remember the French past imperfect subjunctive double-clarified indirect imperative half-caf conditional verb form when the only ones I could identify in English with any certainty were past and present? Nobody else in the class was as clueless as I was, so I assume I missed those lessons by moving so much as a kid.

                  1. “French past imperfect subjunctive double-clarified indirect imperative half-caf conditional verb form…”

                    Love this. I think I don’t make a lot of grammatical errors, but I surely don’t remember the names of all the forms!

                  2. Thanks for the giggle. We stayed put and I still missed those lessons as a kid.

              1. It’s one of those words that give themselves away though. Homo — like / same as (homogeneous, homosexual); phone — sound (phonic, phonetic).

    1. Love this guy. A local alternative paper runs his stuff. I wish my own MSM did.

  10. Daniel Oliver quoted George Will today in his “Barack Obama’s Square Box”

    Clinton, George Will said, was not our worst president; but he was the worst man ever to become president. Obama is not the worst man ever to become president. But he is certainly the most incompetent, as Americans, watching this weak community organizer flail impotently against the BP oil spill, are now coming to realize.


    I also enjoyed this one:

    D.L. Hammack’s “A Beginner Behind The Wheel”


    1. There must be something wrong with me. I write for a living (a nominal living) and misspellings and grammar goofs don’t really bug me.

      1. “I write for a living (a nominal living) and misspellings and grammar goofs don’t really bug me.”

        No crime in goofs (mostly!) — for people who DO notice those things, they’re distractions at best and can be misleading at worst. I’m ASSUMING those are the reasons why we have spelling and grammar rules, no?

        1. Yes. And a fabulous teacher told me once that I had to learn the rules before I could break them.

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