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The Audacity of Complete Sentences

Jonah Goldberg has some blunt ruminations about how much better a communicator President Obama is than former President George W. Bush.

I think this is just another example of why Bush supporters who thought that his way of talking was an asset were so wrong. It always amazed me that the party of Reagan (AKA “the Great Communicator) could so quickly turn on the idea that having an articulate spokesman for our ideas was overrated or unnecessary. Bush talks “American,” people would tell me. I don’t care whether he talks American or the Queen’s English, so long as the conservative standard-bearer can win arguments. One of the great failings of Bush’s presidency is that he couldn’t persuade people who didn’t already agree with him. One of Obama’s great advantages is that he can.

I point this out because Goldberg has something of a minority view. It’s common among conservatives to joke that Obama is an incoherent speaker, lost without a teleprompter, a human typhoon of “uhs” and “looks.”

To wit, Craig Shirley:

Obama is the most adept Teleprompter reader in the history of the Presidency, but watching his struggling search for clauses and dependent clauses in his extemporanous answers to the easy questions he was served up, reminded one of a drunk trying to cross an icy parking lot—you think he is going to make it—you hope he will do so, but at the end of the day, it came across as so much contradictory gibberish.

This simply isn’t the Obama that most Americans see, and this pleasant fantasy has led conservatives to underestimate the president. It traces back to a February 2008 column written by the late Dean Barnett, that, based on a viewing (on tape, not in the room) of an Obama speech in Virginia, argued that the future president came off like a “tongue-tied” and “tediously angry liberal.”

It’s all reminiscent of the frustration that liberals felt watching Bush faux-folksy his way through speeches and debates — a perfect inversion of grudges.

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