Tag Archives: rhetoric

Obama regains “Eye of the Tiger” in 2nd Presidential Debate

I missed the first Presidential Debate last week, but gathered from the chatter that Mitt Romney stole a round from a woefully-underprepared President Obama.  The commentary gave the sense that Obama prepared for the event in the way Apollo Creed prepared for the fight in the first Rocky movie.  As Apollo’s trainer told him after the champ got knocked down the first round, “he doesn’t know it’s a damn show, he thinks it’s a damn fight!”

Media leaks even suggest that Obama actually thought he won the debate for most of the next day, until some metaphorical kid burst his advisor-bubble with a “hey, the emperor is naked” moment.

I saw portions of the second Presidential Debate yesterday night, in which “2008 Obama” reappeared, thoroughly out-debating and out-classing Romney, whom the moderator caught in a massive factual error (see about 1:20) – Romney insisted it took Obama two weeks to call the attack on the American Embassy in Libya a terrorist act, whereas Obama had in fact called it an “act of terror” the next day.  Ah, the perils of relying on Fox News for one’s facts.  :)

Returning to that first Rocky movie, Obama pummelled Romney the way Apollo pummelled Rocky in Rounds 2 through 14.  For you cultural orphans who haven’t seen the movie — it was the 8 Mile of its day! — this video clip provides a good summary.  The rest of the movie is largely filler.  :)

And incidentally, on the topic of 8 Mile, in its climactic rap-battle Rabbit disses arch-nemesis Papa Doc’s privileged upbringing, saying (in a totally NSFW clip):

I know something about you, you went to Cranbrook – that’s a private school!  

Given that Romney actually DID go to Cranbrook as a kid, bullying a gay classmate no less, it’d be beyond awesome to have Obama use that as a one-liner in the last debate!  :)

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Combined with Joe Biden’s casual beat-down of Paul Ryan in the Vice-Presidential debate, things are looking up for the Democrats.

Unfortunately, the outlook is more nuanced – negative, even – for progressives.  The American right-wing has moved their goalposts so far to the right, Obama inevitably looks good by comparison.  As such, he gets support from American liberals (think New York Times readers) and the American left (think Michael Moore).  Back in the day, it was said that Bill Clinton was the first black President, because of the extraordinary support he enjoyed from the African-American community.  Future historians and students of politics might well call Barack Obama the first black Republican President, because he’s basically governed as a moderate Republican.  Despite high hopes, BHO has fallen well short of FDR.  And in some key ways, he’s indistinguishable from GWB.

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Commemorating Joe Romm’s “Language Intelligence”

Joe Romm‘s book Language Intelligence is now out in the US (but maddeningly, remains unavailable in Canada).  Early reviews proclaim it as both a rhetorical masterpiece, and a masterpiece on rhetoric.

To commemorate the book in my small way, I dug up a piece I wrote for a competition on Dr. Romm’s blog, Climate Progress.  In 2009, he asked readers what they’d have Obama say, if they could write the energy and environment portion of his inaugural speech.

I made a couple light edits; some phrases sounded a lot better three years ago than they do now.  Regrettably, Obama’s “yes we can” is among them.  It rings hollow in 2012, given that his governing philosophy has largely been “no we can’t” — no we can’t switch to single-payer, universal health coverage; no we can’t prosecute financial corruption; no we can’t pass a climate bill; and so forth.

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