Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Listening to speeches

AVI wrote that most of his interaction with popular culture is text-based--would that make it hot media?

The first thing I thought of was "I haven’t watched or listened to a Presidential speech or debate in decades. I skim the transcript. If that."

That’s partly because I hate to waste a half an hour when I can get the same information in 2 minutes. Partly it’s because I discount their claims and promises by 90% or so—don’t listen to the magician’s patter, watch his hands. ("You can keep your policy.")

I’ve delivered addresses that were compelling, and others that were fumbling, with equally sound data and reasoning behind both kinds. (At the equivalent of 3am my time, I rarely perform at my best.) I don’t put quite as much weight on presentation as on content, at least when listening to the pros. With acquaintances, yes, I pay attention to tone and posture—but pols and other actors practice sounding convincing.

I wonder if one side effect of this detachment is a lack of perceived relationship. When I read a speech I don’t feel that Obama is addressing me the way I’m told the fireside chats made people feel that Roosevelt was talking to them. I didn’t feel attached to Bush either, or to Clinton, or to Bush or … But some people seem to feel more than just a simple tribal connection.

On reflection, I don't think that lack is a real problem. There is no personal relationship between us--why kid myself? Perhaps David Warren would argue that there should be--the king should have a small enough kingdom to make that at least remotely feasible. But for better and for worse we intended to design a government with replaceable rulers to whom one makes no lasting commitment beyond a pension.

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