Informative Friday Stuff Because We Live to Serve

Better to read this entertaining article than ever have to listen to him to do the research yourself.

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Why is the World’s Greatest Orator such a dreadful rhetorician?

Not that anybody’s asking, but no, we didn’t watch President Obama’s speech last night announcing his latest recalibration of his Afghanistan policy to adapt to the changing conditions of the 2012 electoral battlefield. It’s been a long time since we found this president’s speeches worth staying home to see.

…So why in the world would Obama expect a call for “nation building at home” to resonate? Not only is nation building a discredited idea, but the implication is that the U.S. is a pathetic wreck of a country like Kosovo or Afghanistan or Iraq. Undeniably, America has its problems, but many of them are caused or aggravated by an obtrusive government. We don’t need to be “built,” just left alone to maintain and reinvigorate ourselves.

The answer appears to be that once again, the World’s Greatest Orator is taking his rhetorical cues from the Worst Writer in the English Language. Remember the “Sputnik moment,” the trope in Obama’s State of the Union Address that was supposed to inspire us to get excited about whatever boondoggles he’s pushing this year? Neither did we; we have to delve into our archives to be reminded of the details.

But we remembered who used that forgettable phrase first: Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. And Commentary’s Abe Greenwald reminds us that “nation building at home” is another of Friedman’s tropes. On Nov. 28, 2010, Reason’s Matt Welch noted that in Friedman’s column of that day, “the phrase ‘nation-building at home’ makes two appearances, ‘nation-building in America’ makes two more, and there’s a fifth ‘nation-building’ in there, presumably for collectors.”

Noting that Friedman had been beating that drum for 2½ years, Welch titled his post “Thomas L. Friedman: Nation-Building at Home Just as Crucial a Slogan Now as it Was 14 Columns Ago.” Make that 15. On March 23, Friedman wrote: “If the president is ready to take some big, hard, urgent, decisions, shouldn’t they be first about nation-building in America, not in Libya?”

Still, that’s only one column in almost seven months, vs. almost one every other month in the period before Welch noted it. And Friedman has not mentioned Sputnik in any column since we called him on that one after the State of the Union.

How can anyone take seriously Barack Obama’s status as the World’s Greatest Orator when he uses Friedmanisms that have become so Friedmanistic that even Friedman avoids them?

I don’t, but apparently somebody still does.

Or did.

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