Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama's Iraq Speech Underwhelms

President Obama gave his second speech from the Oval Office tonight. I didn't watch it because I don't have TV any more (thank Heavens!). But judging by how the media people reacted, he may have lost his charm over them.

Here's a take by David Zurawik at Baltimore Sun:

"Forget about the grace and TV magic that analysts once talked about it critquing President Barack Obama's prime-time performances. The kindest thing one could say about the president's 18-minute address from the Oval Office Tuesday night is that it was workmanlike.

"Part of that involved all the contradictions the president was trying to disguise -- starting with his effort to describe the combat mission in Iraq that came to an end as a victory without giving much credit to President George W. Bush who took a lot of heat for it while he was in office. And the one thing Obama really didn't want to do was remind Americans that he was one of the senators criticizing Bush.

"The performance also lacked grace because Obama was trying to do so much pivoting in such a short time. He had to move quickly from Iraq to Afghanistan, the war in which we are now mired at his choosing -- and then get the heck out of Afghanistan and onto the economy, which is what most Americans really care about. If it sounds lilke a mess -- yeah, that's what he had to try and deal with in 18 minutes.

"But I'll let the politicos talk about that. As a TV and media analyst, I was struck by the presentation and performance of the president -- both of which were strikingly defective.

"First, the camera shot him so tight you had no sense of the Oval Office. And this is crazy, because more than anything else after all his talk shows and hoops games and golf courses, this guy needs more than ever to look presidential. We need leadership, and he needs to wrap himself in the trappings of the office that remind us that he is our elected leader.

"But no, they shot him so tight it could have been a "Saturday Night Live" set where the intense close-up is used to mask the lack of anything but a desk and a couple of flags on an NBC stage. Honestly, look at the YouTube video, he could have been anywhere.

"This is huge and obvious mistake in staging. Does anyone in that administration understand imagery and symbolism?

"Obama seemed small sitting in that chair last night, and maybe that is why they shot him so close-up -- hoping to make him seem a little larger.

"Whatever the reason, it didn't work.

"This is not a TV performance that is going to inspire confidence in the man, the office or his policies. And that is too bad, because this nation desperately needs some confidence right now. "

Saturday Night Live would have done a much more lively and entertaining speech...

Let's see.. all he did yesterday was to give a speech on the economy in the Rose Garden and tank the stock market. Today, all he did was to fly to Texas to meet the troops briefly, fly back, and gave this speech. He must be conserving energy for tomorrow, a big day.


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