Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Ram Guha on US elections: two conclusions

November 9, 2008

Here is Ram Guha about his recent visit to US during the presidential election campaign:

The first conclusion was that this was probably the most participatory election in the history of democracy.

My second conclusion was that while for many of his supporters and opponents, the colour of Obama’s skin was highly relevant, he succeeded precisely because it seemed to be irrelevant to himself, and because in time he made it irrelevant to the vast majority of uncommitted voters.

There is more in the piece; take a look!

Chabon on the American persidential election oratory

September 26, 2008

Chabon writes about his experience of attending the DNC in Denver and the role of spoken language and oratory in American politics (link via Laila Lalami):

The entire party convention is a collective act of that kind. It’s a throwback, a holdover, a relic, like baseball. It’s also, weirdly, a formal, public celebration of spoken language, a kind of political eisteddfod. A lot of the language I heard in the roughly thirty-seven speeches to which I listened was undoubtedly banal. The technique known as “staying on message”—picking one or two or at the most six things to talk about, and talking about them ceaselessly and in unvarying terms until they are no longer questioned, challenged, or even, really, remarked as they waft past the listener’s ear—is hell on poetry. The decimated vocabulary of modern American politics, confined to dwell on those islands called Family, Patriotism, Change, Future, and the Choices (Right and Dangerous), beggars most speeches down to their rhetorical rags and bones. In Denver the nearby presence of the Rockies tempted many of the speechwriters to pile up mountains of cliché.

Staying on message also tends to diminish the content of oratory. Most of the speakers offered up pretty much the same things, mutatis mutandi for region and generation and role in society, as those who preceded or followed them. The Message of a campaign is like a textured soy protein that appears at every meal in the guise of chicken or pork or the governor of Indiana, nutritious in its way but ultimately jading to the palate. “That is not the change we need,” Evan Bayh said, speaking of Senator McCain. And Amanda Kubik, a twenty-seven-year-old delegate from Fargo, North Dakota, said, “Barack Obama is the change we need.” In his acceptance speech, Joe Biden employed the phrase “that’s the change we need” five times in epistrophic succession.

I wondered if Obama ever wearied of the sham and extravagance and artifice. I wondered if his writerly ear rebelled at the nightly catalog of corn, platitudes, and dead language, or if perhaps the pragmatism so routinely underestimated by Obama’s opponents took satisfaction in the seamless forcefield of message generated nightly by the well-vetted objects of his speechwriters’ attentions. Or maybe, I thought, with his lyric grasp of US history, Obama enjoyed as much as I did the interstitial bits of procedural prose (“Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Democrats and friends, we bring you greetings from the great state of Georgia, the thirteenth state in our union, birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr….where we look to the future with an optimistic gaze…we, the empire state of the South, the jewel of the South, the great state of Georgia…), scenting the convention with their panatela reek of mock pomposity, the all but inaudible echoed trumpetings of the electoral past. Mostly, like everyone, I found myself wondering about the speech that he was going to give on Thursday night.

… Oratory demands not only stagecraft and poetry but the creation of a persona, and in this sense Michelle Obama’s speech carried twice the burden of any other speaker at the convention: she had to define herself, and in so doing, help to more sharply define her husband.

A very interesting piece; take a look!

Seagal + van Damme = Unfinished explosions ! :-)

May 21, 2008

Over at McSweeney’s, van Damme endorses Obama; along the way, you get some insider information like this:

Earlier today, just after we had started filming Double Overtime, I got a call from my agent. It turns out he got me a part in a legitimate studio film. I’d be co-starring with Steven Seagal in Timecop 3 / Under Siege 3: Unfinished Explosions. Seagal’s character, former Navy SEAL Casey Ryback, and my character, the time-traveling cop Max Walker, would team up to fight a chrono-terrorist during the Civil War onboard America’s first ironclad vessel, the Monitor. The tag line would be “Two legends. One knows ships. The other knows splits. Together, the South doesn’t stand a chance.”

I turned it down. I think Double Overtime will be my last action movie. I shouldn’t have to wear a flag pin, metaphorically speaking, to have a career as an actor. So thank you, Barack Obama, for striving to rise above a political season as trite and predictable as the shittiest movie I’ve ever done. You gave this aging action superstar hope that there’s a better way, that there can be life after Replicant. If I could legally vote in the U.S., you could count on my vote—because this Belgian doesn’t waffle!

The Macs and PCs of politics!

February 7, 2008

Reporters covering the candidates have already resorted to traditional analysis of style — fashion choices, manner of speaking, even the way they laugh. Yet, according to design experts, the candidates have left a clear blueprint of their personal style — perhaps even a window into their souls — through the Web sites they have created to raise money, recruit volunteers and generally meet-and-greet online.On one thing, the experts seem to agree. The differences between hillaryclinton.com and barackobama.com can be summed up this way: Barack Obama is a Mac, and Hillary Clinton is a PC.

From this NYTimes piece titled Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC? Via Abi.