I didn’t do any post-Iowa blogging on Thursday night, since I didn’t think there was much to say at the time, but all the people going on about Obama’s speech reminded me that I wanted to say a few things about it. It was not one of the great speeches of all time or even of the last thirty years. Ross makes some of the necessary points. It was a decent, even a good, speech, but it was ultimately just so much of a rehash of his Jefferson-Jackson dinner speech that still explained very little about what Obama would do. These speeches do not, as Klein says, “elevate,” unless this is a polite way of saying that they are so hot and gaseous that they have the same effect as helium in a balloon. Like certain gases, his words also seem to inspire feelings of giddiness in some listeners. Klein went on:
He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair.
This seems to be a very grand way of saying that he is all talk and no action. What is remarkable about this statement, apart from the contrast that (grudgingly) concedes that Obama is not, in fact, the Logos incarnate, is that Klein thinks that this disembodied verbiage is a desirable trait in someone’s speeches. According to this, Obama practices a sort of rhetorical docetism, epitomising the very professorial, condescending air that leaves most people cold, and this is why he inspires? Very odd.