Is Barry “eloquent” (having or exercising the power of fluent, forceful, and appropriate speech) or merely “articulate” (using language easily and fluently)? This might seem an odd question given that even Barry’s few critics praise his supposed eloquence.
I side with Joe Biden who, when he was running against Barry, described him as “clean and articulate.” Biden’s description was a gaffe of the kind defined by Michael Kinsley, that is, when a politician mistakenly utters what he really believes. Astute observers noted that the statement had racial (if not racist) implications, whereby any black man who doesn’t wear clothes 10 sizes too large, who doesn’t wear his pants south of his butt, and who can speak reasonably grammatical sentences is given a lot of extra credit that would not be bestowed upon a white guy with similar qualities.
However, we now know that “clean and articulate” is insufficient praise when it comes to Barry. I don’t remember anyone ever describing Bill Clinton (our first black president) as eloquent. His only memorable words were, “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky” and “It depends on what the meaning of is is.” No, Clinton was merely articulate.
In the old days, you might be considered eloquent, if you said memorable words of wisdom and wit. Lincoln, Churchill, Martin Luther King spring to mind because their words were not only fluent, but also forceful, wise, and memorable. Obama may yet enter the pantheon of the eloquent, but so far he has not uttered a single noteworthy line.
Obama’s technique is the rhetoric of moral equivalence, a trick beloved of left wingers the world over. In Obama’s race speech (praised by some as the greatest speech written by an American since the Gettysburg Address), delivered in response to the discovery that he had attended, for over a decade, a church headed by a black nationalist supporter of Louis Farrakhan, Obama equated his minister’s hateful ideas with his own grandmother’s reaction to an aggressive black panhandler who had harassed her on the bus. Since his inauguration, he has serially apologized for a myriad of America’s sins while equating them with those of the terrorist states of the so-called Muslim World.
I suppose the rhetoric of moral equivalence passes for eloquence among liberals, but the assumption of Barry’s eloquence is really about the need of whites (whatever their political opinions) to overpraise blacks. Before Obama, Jesse Jackson was considered an orator of Ciceronian caliber despite the fact that his only rhetorical technique was to recite dumb rhymes similar to those found in rap “music.” No matter, he was brilliant and charismatic too.
There are lots of “clean, articulate” white guys in politics today – Evan Bayh, John Thune, and Michael Bennett come to mind- but it is highly unlikely that they will be elected president. As I said during the campaign, the only thing that distinguished Barry from his Democratic competitors is his race – which both his supporters and critics confuse with eloquence.