Speech! Speech!

Josh Chafetz agrees and expands upon John Podhoretz’ suggestion that President Bush make “a series of major addresses — long and thoughtful speeches of the sort that have continually helped to elevate his presidency and given it substantive heft.” Matthew Yglesias thinks this idea is amusing.

Not surprisingly, I side with Chafetz and company on this one. Certainly, Bush is not an orator on par with Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. Or, hell, his dad. But he connects very well with the voters if he’s in the right forum and sticks to topics he deeply believes in.

The bottom line is that this election will be about his performance during his first term. He needs to defend that performance which, on balance, has been pretty good.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. legion says:

    Well, technically, you and Josh and John are right – that sort of “fireside chat” thing is _exactly_ the sort of thing that could allow GW to re-connect with the Average Joe and throw contrast on Kerry’s roots.

    I could sit here and make snarky comments all day on whether Bush is physically capable of making addresses like that, but the real rub is that it would provide huge amounts of ammo to the Dems to fire back on. If I were Terry Mac, I would purchase national air time, as quickly as possible after any of these “chats” and Fisk every single point Bush made.

    It all goes back to the old adage – Keep silent & be thought a fool or open your mouth & remove all doubt. As long as Bush keeps his mouth shut, it’s harder for the Dems to attack him.

  2. McGehee says:

    Legion, I rather suspect that strategy would prove to be as effective as the Dems’ “response” to the SOTU speeches (i.e., not very).

  3. Eddie Thomas says:

    I remember Bill Clinton as being a terrible orator – his speeches always ran long and consisted mainly of petty throwaways to different interest groups. His strength, like W.’s, is with informal speaking.

    Speaking of Reagan’s oratory, about six months ago I saw a replay of a debate between Reagan and Mondale. Reagan was good, but so was Mondale, at least by today’s standards. Perhaps this was before poll-testing became so dominant. Anyway, it is amazing how much oratory has declined even in my lifetime.

  4. James Joyner says:

    I think it’s a function of 24/7 news television and talk radio. With everything so over-analyzed, most politicians learn to talk without saying anything.

  5. legion says:

    McG – When I say ‘as soon as possible’, I’m actually assuming at least a day or so’s lead time. You’re right that SOTU responses are pretty worthelss… but since they come on immediately after the prez stops talking, they have to be mostly-written before he ever takes the stage. That greatly limits the ability to de-bunk anything in the SOTU, and turns the response into an extended “oh yeah?”. I’m thinking of something a little more researched, substantive, and frankly mature than a simple partisan shot. That’s the Dems’ biggest threat right now as I see it – misjudging what the voters care about, hitting Bush too hard on the wrong issue, and causing enormous backlash.

  6. McGehee says:

    You may be right, L, but I really haven’t seen evidence that they can do better even with a couple of days to work on it. Ever since 9/11, tin ear, they name is Democrat.