Showing posts with label Speeches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Speeches. Show all posts

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Peggy Noonan, in her book titled What I Saw at the Revolution, tells of the period in which she worked as a speechwriter in the Ronald Reagan White House.  In her book Noonan reveals that Reagan, due to his deafness, could not hear what was said in a group unless the words were spoken directly to him.  She describes her first meeting with the president several months after she began writing his speeches.
There he was, behind his desk, turning toward me: a big, tall, radiant man, impeccably tailored, his skin soft, pink and smooth. He twinkled at me. I was the new one, and the only woman. He walked to me and took my hand. It is the oddest thing and true, even though everyone says it: it is impossible to be nervous in his presence. He acts as if he's lucky to be with you. ''Well,'' he said, ''it's so wonderful to meet you. Please, please sit down. Well, so!''

We sat, I in the spot on the couch immediately to his right. I don't really remember what we talked about. There was no reason for the meeting beyond ''The new speechwriter's unhappy and let's let her meet him or she may leave.'' The President sat up straight in his chair, a piece of beige plastic in his ear. I was surprised how big his hearing aid is, or rather how aware of it you are when you're with him. There was a quizzical look on his face as he listened to what was going on around him, and I realized: he doesn't really hear very much, and his appearance of constant good humor is connected to his deafness. He misses much of what is not said straight to him, and because of that he keeps a pleasant look on his face as people chat around him.

The meeting lasted half an hour. Conversation ambled. The President looked around sometimes as if to say: ''What are we doing here, folks?'' I felt guilty at taking his time.
Since Noonan was and is an ardent admirer of Reagan, I was surprised that she revealed that much of the time during meetings, Reagan did not know what was going on because he could not hear.  The president also may have had symptoms of Alzheimer's while he was still in office, according to his son, Ron.

But I digress. What I really want to talk about is Noonan's report on the Republican National Convention in the Wall Street Journal.  After getting off to a slow start because President Obama convinced the weather services to wrongly report that Tropical Storm Isaac was headed for Tampa, the convention got its groove on the second night with Mike Huckabee.
It started with Mike Huckabee. He is a performer, he knows how to do this, and he made the audience listen. But he is also a policy person and a veteran campaigner who knows the base.
Mike knows the base base, indeed.
That was electric. Every speaker afterwards got to bounce off the energy Mr. Huckabee left in the room.

Condi Rice was a star. She took the role of accomplished and knowledgable public instructor, boiling down the conservative critique of Mr. Obama's foreign policy.
Oh I remember the bright star Condi sitting with a vacant look on her face holding up the President's Daily Briefing from August 2011 which was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" as she was questioned by a member of the 9/11 Commission as to why there was no response by the White House to the warning.  If you recall, Bush was on vacation in Texas at the time and did not return to DC.
The most important speech Wednesday was Paul Ryan's. America was meeting him. I won't quote at length, since it's all over the Internet and you already know the lines that scored—the college kid and the Obama poster, the elevator music. Great stuff.

But here's what was important. Mr. Ryan started awkward, got his sea legs, settled down, and by the time he was finished he'd made Mr. Obama look tired and old. He made the administration sound over. He made it sound so yesterday.
I watched less than 5 minutes of Ryan's speech and decided that he was FOS and became bored, so I stopped watching.
And yet. He [Ryan] seemed very young up there. And the teleprompter forced him to shift his eyes from screen to screen and deliver the good line, plonkingly, to the center screen. The crowd loved him and conservatives love him, but he is going to have to work very hard to break through to America
Clint Eastwood was funny, endearing—"Oprah was crying"—and carries his own kind of cultural authority. "It's time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem." He was free-form, interesting—you didn't quite know what was going to come next—strange and, in the end, kind of exhilarating. Talk about icons. The crowd yelling, "Make my day," was one of the great convention moments, ever.
Whoa!  Did Peggy and I watch the same "speech"?  Again, I saw less than 5 minutes because it was excruciatingly embarrassing to watch Clint meandering around talking to an empty chair.  How could the organizers of the convention let this happen to Eastwood who had volunteered out of the goodness of his heart to help them?
Mitt Romney's speech? The success of the second night of the convention left people less nervous about the stakes. Nobody expected a great one. There was a broad feeling of, "Look, giving great speeches is not what Mitt does, he does other things."

He had to achieve adequacy. He did.
Ouch!  I suggest Noonan's commentary be used in lessons in English rhetoric as an example of damning with faint praise.  Ah well, she gave it her best.

Again, I did not last 5 minutes with Romney's speech.  I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard Romney say that Americans came together after Obama's election.  How long after the inauguration was it before we heard the first racist commentary?  How long before we saw the first racist posters and pictures?  Yes, I know.  The commentary and pictures were there all throughout the campaign, but there was no coming together after Obama's election, except in your dreams, Mr Romney.

Now you know know that I watched very little of the activities of the RNC, but others did.  For a somewhat different take on the speakers, I suggest you read my good friend Elizabeth Kaeton's report on the major speeches at her blog "Telling Secrets".

Margaret of "Margaret and Helen" watched the speeches, too, and posted her hilarious commentary

So. Who ya gonna believe?  Peggy Noonan took a trip, but was it to the RNC in Tampa?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


From the Guardian:
George W Bush has had to call off a trip to Switzerland next weekend amid planned protests by human rights groups over the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and the threat of a warrant for his arrest.

David Sherzer, a spokesman for the former US president, confirmed the move in an email to the Associated Press. "We regret that the speech has been cancelled," he said. "President Bush was looking forward to speaking about freedom and offering reflections from his time in office."

The visit would have been Bush's first to Europe since he admitted in his autobiography, Decision Points, in November that he had authorised the use of waterboarding – simulated drowning – on detainees at Guantánamo accused of links with al-Qaida. Whether out of concern over the protests or the arrest warrant, it is an extraordinary development for a former US president to have his travel plans curtailed in this way, and amounts to a victory for human rights campaigners.

An extraordinary development, indeed, but Bush is an extraordinary man, infamous for his "What me worry?" attitude toward waterboarding, which I consider torture.
Organisers of the protest had called on participants to bring a shoe, commemorating the Iraqi journalist who threw one at Bush during a 2008 press conference in Baghdad, to a rally outside the hotel where Bush was due to speak.

Human rights groups had planned to submit a 2,500-page case against Bush in Geneva tomorrow over the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo. The Bush administration claims that waterboarding does not amount to torture, but human rights organisations and the Obama administration have said it does.

Bush gets paid big money for giving speeches, and now he will need to be careful about leaving the country to get the monetary rewards - not that he will lapse into poverty as a result. Bush pays only a small price for authorizing cruel treatment of detainees.

H/T to Adrastos at First Draft.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm suffering from speech and sermon fatigue from attempting to read sermons and addresses by the bishops attending the Global South Gathering. I need a rest, however, I offer you these nuggets from the gathering.

The day started with Archbishop Robert Duncan presiding at Holy Communion. In his homily, he reminded us that we, who are “deeply, truly and permanently loved” are truly free. We do not “go our own way” to find freedom, but we come to Jesus, the bread of life.

From the list of attendees in Singapore:

The Episcopal Church – Communion Partners Representatives

the Rt. Rev. JOhn Howe, Central Florida

the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, South Carolina

Church of England

all three stuck in London

The Lead at the Episcopal Café gives good coverage of the meeting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


From the website of the Anglican Communion: The video and text of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' address to the Global South Gathering. Below is a brief excerpt:

But of course we are reflecting on the need for a covenant in the light of confusion, brokenness and tension within our Anglican family – a brokenness and a tension that has been made still more acute by recent decisions in some of our Provinces. In all your minds there will be questions around the election and consecration of Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles. All of us share the concern that in this decision and action the Episcopal Church has deepened the divide between itself and the rest of the Anglican family. And as I speak to you now, I am in discussion with a number of people around the world about what consequences might follow from that decision, and how we express the sense that most Anglicans will want to express, that this decision cannot speak for our common mind.

But I hope also in your thinking about this and in your reacting to it, you’ll bear in mind that there are no quick solutions for the wounds of the Body of Christ.
It is the work of the Spirit that heals the Body of Christ, not the plans or the statements of any group, or any person, or any instrument of communion. Naturally we seek to minimize the damage, to heal the hurts, to strengthen our mission, to make sure that it goes forward with integrity and conviction. Naturally, there are decisions that have to be taken. But at the same time we must all - as indeed your own covering notes suggest for your conference - we must all share in a sense of repentance and willingness to be renewed by the Spirit.

So while the tensions and the crises of our Anglican Communion will of course be in your minds as they are in mine, I know from what you have written, what you have communicated about your plans and hopes for this conference, that you will allow the Holy Spirit to lift your eyes to that broader horizon of God’s purpose for us as Anglicans, for us as Christians, and indeed for us as human beings. (My emphasis)

The former mantra to which we became accustomed as the reason given for division in the Anglican Communion was the election and ordination of Gene Robinson, "the practicing homosexual", as a bishop in the Episcopal Church. The mantra du jour is the election and coming consecration of Mary Glasspool, "the practicing homosexual", as a bishop. The archbishop does not speak the words, but they lie there, unspoken. Tedious, yes?

All the minds of those attending the Global South Gathering may have "questions around the election and consecration of Mary Glasspool", but the minds of many of the rest of us are, indeed, not questioning Mary Glasspool's election and consecration simply on the basis that she shares her life with her beloved partner of 20 years. We rejoice, even as we pray for them as we remain aware of the spotlight and scrutiny which will be focused on Mary and Becki.

Archbishop Williams, I remind you that your words "cannot speak for our common mind", either. I'd also ask if the election and coming ordination of Mary Glasspool is the wound in the Body of Christ to which you refer?


From Archbishop Peter Akinola's sermon at the opening service of the Global South Gathering:

More importantly, has the real problem that tore the fabric of the Communion been addressed? Can the Covenant address the problem? As we are gathered here today, there are those who are in what they call 'impaired communion' and others in what is called 'broken sacramental communion' with The Episcopal Church in North America and the Anglican Church of Canada. All calls for accountability and repentance have not been heeded. Decisions taken by the Primates to resolve the problem at their meetings in Brazil, Dromantine and Dar es Salam have been jettisoned. Consequently, the Communion has not been able to mend the ‘broken net’.

This, sadly, is the eighth year since we have not all been in communion with one another, globally, in the same Anglican Church. It appears that some of our leaders value the ageing structures of the communion much more than anything else, hence, the illusion that with more meetings, organisations and networks the crises will disappear. How wrong.

We all know that signing the covenant will not stop TEC from pursuing its own agenda. In fact only recently, it elected and confirmed another openly practicing lesbian priest to the episcopate. The Communion is still unable to exercise discipline. We are God's Covenant to the world, yes, but we are divided. We lack discipline. We lack the courage to call ‘a spade a spade’. Our obedience to God is selective.
(My emphasis)

In his final paragraph, Abp. Akinola says that he calls "a spade a spade", but he can't quite bring himself to name Mary Glasspool, except to label her as an "openly practicing lesbian priest". She who is not to be named?

Abp. Akinola speaks stronger words than Abp. Williams in calling for "discipline" rather than "consequences", but perhaps, in the end, the two mean the same thing.

Abp. Akinola:
All calls for accountability and repentance have not been heeded.

Right, Archbisop Akinola, however, I expect we speak of different actions and words for which repentance and accountability would be appropriate.

Abp. Akinola:
Our obedience to God is selective.

Right again, Archbisop Akinola, however, I expect we disagree on which actions and words are disobedient to God.

UPDATE: Pluralist has the transcript of the Archbishop of Anglicanism's real video.