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Obama Should Talk Like Bush

John Hinderacker recently offered some communications tips for Barack Obama:

Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn’t raise his standards, he will exceed Bush’s total before he is inaugurated.

Steve Benen and Josh Marshall think that Hinderacker is crazy here.  Au contraire.  He’s outlining the GOP’s best chance at regaining the White House in 2012.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. @Astrogirl426 http://tinyurl.com/5akft4 – helps when I send the link

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  2. Wow, Obama should talk like Bush? I’m speechless. http://tinyurl.com/5akft4 http://twurl.nl/8xz8t2

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  3. Wow, Obama should talk like Bush? I’m speechless. http://tinyurl.com/5akft4

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  4. Eric says:

    He’s outlining the GOP’s best chance at regaining the White House in 2012.

    I take “best chance” here, James, to mean that they have little to no chance of regaining the White House in 2012?

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  5. odograph says:

    I thought Bush gaffes stopped being reported because the press and the country had reached exhaustion.

    “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 13, 2008

    (Bike rides are OK though.)

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  6. Dantheman says:

    “Steve Benen and Josh Marshall think that Hinderacker is crazy here. Au contraire. He’s outlining the GOP’s best chance at regaining the White House in 2012.”

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

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  7. [...] James Joyner lays out what he considers “the GOP’s best chance at regaining the White House in 2012.” [...]

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  8. “I take “best chance” here, James, to mean that they have little to no chance of regaining the White House in 2012?”

    1-) They would have to improve his performance among Hispanics. You don´t win elections losing California, Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico on the same time. And *Texas* and *Arizona* are on the same path of it´s neighbor(*It´s only a matter of time*), specially because the proportion of Hispanic voters in these states will grow substantially.

    And Obama did few moves to win such high numbers of Latino votes. And the fact that McCain was a favorite son in Arizona surely distorted the numbers there. Had other guy have been nominated and Obama could have won that state.

    2-) The low number of Republican Senators and Governors also means a poorer field of presidential candidates. There are very few Republican governors that aren´t governing deep Republican small states(Like Nebraska and Alaska) and lots of them have serious problems(Sonny Perdue´s prayer for rain while Georgia faced a severe drought, Halley Barbour meddling with racist organizations, Rick Perry´s low popularity, etc).

    The Republicans senators are also concentrated on the South and in deep Republican small states. And several of them are only elected because Democrats aren´t able of winning Senate seats in states like Georgia and Mississippi.

    The 2008 field of candidates was very poor. With the exception of Jindal and Crist it´s hard to think of some Republican that can appeal to the middle and that independents will see as competent and sane. Even if the Obama Administration becomes a carternesque failure the Republican prospects for 2012 are very bleak.

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  9. LFC says:

    Steve Benen and Josh Marshall think that Hinderacker is crazy here.

    Maybe Hinderacker suffers from another form of Bush Derangement Syndrome?

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  10. odograph says:

    The best thing you can say for Republicans in 2012 is that 4 years is a long time. The world can change, and the Republicans can change.

    I hope the world changes for the better, and that the Republicans will try to be even better … rather than counting on disaster and recovery.

    We are in disaster recovery now, and it’s not that nice.

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  11. Anderson says:

    Maybe Hinderacker suffers from another form of Bush Derangement Syndrome?

    Nah. Just puppy love.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    I take “best chance” here, James, to mean that they have little to no chance of regaining the White House in 2012?

    A lot can happen in four years but Obama is likely to be formidable. And I hope, for the sake of the country, that the economy has rebounded long before then.

    A lot depends on the nominee. If we can get a young, smart, right-of-center governor with some fresh ideas, there’s always a chance. I’m hearing good things about Mark Sanford, for example, although I don’t know much about him at this point.

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  13. “The best thing you can say for Republicans in 2012 is that 4 years is a long time. The world can change, and the Republicans can change.”

    Republicans would have to improve it´s relations with Hispanics and on the same time improve relations with working class people of the Great Lakes region. It´s a tough job.

    And imagine if the Democrats had nominated a governor from the Southwest or the Rust Belt without problems with the NRA. It would have been a massacre.

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  14. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting.

    I would say that he is joking or writing a parody, but I know he isn’t. I agree that Bush has had his moments–such in several speeches right after 9/11 and perhaps his second inaugural. I will also say that can’t remember any huge gaffes, but the notion that Bush is never sloppy with language or that he picks his words with care and precision(!), that’s pretty funny.

    I have watched a lot of Bush speeches and press conferences and saw him in person once. Of the things that I would say about his public speaking prowess, the words “care and precision” do not come to mind.

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  15. Anon says:

    If we can get a young, smart, right-of-center governor with some fresh ideas, there’s always a chance.

    For me at least, the Republicans also have to drop the culture-war stuff and the anti-intellectualism. I don’t mind economic and/or social conservatism as long as it doesn’t preclude competence, knowledge, and intellect, and is not presented as “real” Americans against scary, faux Americans. And I don’t see requiring these characteristics as “elitism”.

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  16. Maybe it’s just me but I no longer associate intellectualism with competence, knowledge, or even intellect. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that there’s a lot more to a successful life than being clever, witty, or well read.

    There was a time when the height of intellectualism was its detailed and complex arguments concerning the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin. I’m not sure today’s intellectuals have much on those antiquated monks, aside from a sense of superiority and a self-righteous sense of noblesse oblige attendant to it.

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  17. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m not sure I could stand another eight years of listening to anybody talking like George W. Bush.

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  18. odograph says:

    Thank you Charles, ;-), I’m sure you’ve described the far horizon of ivory tower theory and impracticality that no one desires.

    On the other hand, we can still work toward informed and rational pragmatism. We don’t have enough of that, in practice.

    I mean, case in point: Does cutting the tax rate increase tax revenues?

    There are a couple non-intellectual answers (“Yes!” and “No!”) and then a great middle continent of interesting discussion (starting with “Sometimes, and that’s interesting because …”).

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  19. Victor says:

    Benen links to malapropisms, not substantive examples of failed communication that led to international incidents. Too bad he and Marshall didn’t feel inclined to engage the debate on the merits.

    For example, just today, the Bush WH is denying that they linked the Colombia FTA with an auto bailout. I suspect that sort of message failure has happened more than Hinderacker recalls.

    Regardless, his adminition to Obama is a good one. Obama maintained good message control (i.e., “change”) in the campaign, but there will undoubtedly be growing pains as that simplistic message must morph into more responsive Oval Office rhetoric. And we simply do not (and cannot) know if he is up to that task. Failure at that task would strike to the core of Obama’s candidacy, and therefore would present a devastating critique if Obama provides the opening.

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  20. just me says:

    I don’t know about Obama speaking with more care, but he bores me to tears during his speeches. I readily admit I couldn’t stand to listen to Bush speak-but Obama bores me even more. He reminds me a lot of the professor I had in college that would drone on and on in circles for the lecture period.

    I know there are those who find him inspiring but for the most part he bores me.

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  21. Theory and practice. Intellectuals are really big on theory, but not so much on practice, and certainly not if there are going to be meaningful, practical metrics to hold them accountable for their decisions.

    As to your question, there seems to be clear evidence that cutting tax rates does increase tax revenue, though it is more complicated than that and you have to consider the relative freedom of the market to begin with as well as other initial conditions. There’s also some theory to support that hypothesis, as there is some theory to contradict it.

    My favorite econ theory story is the heralded multiplier effect that Keynesians of all stripes love to promote to support more government control. As a freshman in college I asked my professor about the divisor effect, since that money had to be taken from somewhere to be sprinkled like magic fairy dust on other more worthy recipients, and what I got back was a blank stare. Actually, I’m grateful for that experience since it got me into something much more rewarding than the dismal science.

    I’m all for reason and informed decision making, but how many times does illiberal statism have to fail before a majority of intellectuals stop trying to shove it down our throats?

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  22. Triumph says:

    Obama Should Talk Like Bush

    Bush needs to start acting like Bush.

    His whole “hosting” Obama at the White House yesterday was disgusting. Hopefully Bush will come to his senses and order Cheney not to order the electoral certificates to Congress in January.

    Obama shouldn’t be allowed to get away with a stolen election.

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  23. tom p says:

    In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly.

    Lesson #1 from the “Bush School of Public Speaking”

    (you’ve done it now, Grewgills, you’ve created a monster)

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  24. odograph says:

    As to your question, there seems to be clear evidence that cutting tax rates does increase tax revenue, though it is more complicated than that and you have to consider the relative freedom of the market to begin with as well as other initial conditions. There’s also some theory to support that hypothesis, as there is some theory to contradict it.

    Actually, in practice things are muddier.

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  25. A very quick perusal of that article seems to be a little misleading. They are comparing economic growth rates and tax revenue growth rates, whereas I think you are arguing that tax rate cuts will not produce more tax revenue. These are not the same thing and are trying to argue with relative numbers (or first derivatives, if you prefer), whereas I think absolute numbers (or functions, if you prefer) are more appropriate to the question at hand.

    Here’s a graph from the Heritage Foundation that shows that tax revenue rose substantially after the Reagan tax cuts, and that the story after the Bush tax cuts is a lot more complicated. To ignore the hits the economy took due to the dot com bubble and 9/11 attack is to argue disingenuously. You cannot just ignore these significant factors that did more to depress tax revenue than the tax cuts did.

    Anyway, the important thing from that graph is that tax revenue growth or decline isn’t the real story. The real story is the compounded annual rate of growth in government spending that is not sustainable if we are to remain a free people. But I digress.

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  26. [...] The Powerline commandant has penned many a love letter to President Bush over the years. But this one is precious.. [...]

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  27. sam says:

    Steve Benen and Josh Marshall think that Hinderacker is crazy here. Au contraire. He’s outlining the GOP’s best chance at regaining the White House in 2012.

    And these are mutually exclusive because? (Unless of course the “au contraire” part is a piece of drollery.)

    Ah, I see Dan got there first. However, we must always keep in mind that Hindraker penned this mash note to W:

    It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

    Mancrush, thou art revealed.

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  28. Dantheman says:

    “Here’s a graph from the Heritage Foundation that shows that tax revenue rose substantially after the Reagan tax cuts”

    Umm, no. It shows roughly a 10% drop in revenues from 1981’a figures to 1983’s. And remember, Reagan signed tax increases virtually every year following the 1981 tax cuts.

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  29. Matt says:

    “Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision,”

    He’s obviously not talking about George Bush, President of the United States of America.

    There must be some other President Bush in some other country being referenced here.

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  30. sam says:

    Umm, no. It shows roughly a 10% drop in revenues from 1981’a figures to 1983’s.

    Right, and if you click the Next arrow on the right, it shows how government spending growth varied with tax growth for the administrations from LBJ to the current Bush. Surprisingly–or not–under Democratic administrations, revenue growth was greater than spending growth. Not so for Republican administrations. As that graph says, “Spending growth typically increases faster than revenue growth, as seen in five of the last eight Administrations.” Typically, that is, if the administration is Republican, as those five are.

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  31. Some of this illustrates why these conversations are so damn difficult, because we can’t even agree about what we are arguing about. Are we discussing revenue growth or revenue growth rates or the delta bewteen revenue growth rates and spending growth rates? Here’s there are statistics to back up any position you want to stake out, especially if you want to ignore data that doesn’t fit. For instance, that Ronald Reagan didn’t stop being president in 1983.

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  32. Moonbat Boy says:

    When Obama doesn’t have his teleprompter he’s a stmmerring future apology waiting to happen. Never has one used so many words and said so little of substance.

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  33. Dantheman says:

    “For instance, that Ronald Reagan didn’t stop being president in 1983.”

    Nope, he just stopped cutting taxes, and started raising them, after 1981. So it’s not exactly surprising that revenues collected began to increase thereafter.

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  34. [...] “Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understa….” [...]

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  35. Sean says:

    “Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly.”

    Oh, really? Bush speaks so poorly I get a daily update with his impressive command of the language:

    Bush Quote Generator [www.marsupialmusic.net]

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