I’m post-modern and disbelieving: speeches put me to sleep and a leader standing at a podium is, for me, the height of tedium. I associate microphones with calls to intransigence, and the praised oratory of some has always seemed to me like nothing but screams to deafen the “enemy.” At public events I usually manage to slip away and I prefer the buzzing of a fly over listening to the promises of a politician. I have had to hear so many harangues—many of them seemingly endless—that I’m not the best person to endure a new lecture.
For me, the voice that emerges from the podium brings more intolerance than concord, a greater helping of exasperation than of calls to harmony. From the podiums I have seen predictions of invasions that never came, economic plans that were never met, and even expressions as discriminatory as, “Let the scum that leaves, leave!” Which is why I was so confused with the serene statement delivered today by Barack Obama, with his manner of carefully constructed arguments and invocations to harmony.
It seemed to me when reading it—I don’t have an illegal satellite dish to watch it on TV—that he condemned all the rhetoric to be left in the twentieth century. We have started to say goodbye to that convulsed eloquence which no longer moves us. I only hope that it will be, “We, the People” who will write the speeches from now on.