6/8/08

Barack Orates Like a Pastor of America's Civil Religion

Religion Writer blogger Andrea Useem wonders aloud -Is Obama’s Real “Faith Asset” His Ability to Speak the Language of American Civil Religion?

We will have eight years (G-d Willing) to discuss and debate this as we track his presidential speeches and compare them with our Founding Fathers, with Lincoln, with Roosevelt and others.

The case still needs to be made in greater detail that Barack's speeches work because they draw on the imagery and rhetoric of America's (often nebulous) civil religion.

Nevertheless, it surely is the right question.

It was clear from her speeches that Hillary did not have sensitivity to religious language and concepts, a weakness that may have cost her dearly.

Religion Writer says:

Obama’s speech last night in St. Paul certainly had elements of this “general” faith. He said (according to the text of his prepared remarks):

And because of what you said - because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.

And then later:

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

True, these words do not contain direct references to God, but in speaking about hopes and aspirations as a defining political force, he somehow tapped that vein of civil religion, implying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that the greatest campaigns are those based on the inner human spirit.

Sen. Clinton at times disparaged Obama’s rhetoric as empty, saying in February:

We need to make a choice between speeches and solutions, because, while words matter greatly, the best words in the world aren’t enough unless you match them with action.

But it seems like she bet wrong — speeches do matter, especially when you’re a candidate and speeches are pretty much all you have to offer.

12 comments:

bryce said...

My favorite Obama webpages:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/
group/TennesseeforObama08
(See first picture)

or:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/
post/juancarloscruz/gG5BSr

John D. Enright said...

"We will have eight years (G-d Willing) to discuss and debate this as we track his presidential speeches and compare them with our Founding Fathers, with Lincoln, with Roosevelt and others." Eight years? He has to get elected first to a four year term. Even if he's lucky in November, by the end of the first term there should be no doubt even among Democrats that O is a dud.

Comparing him to the Founding Fathers, Lincoln and Roosevelt (which one? Teddy? FDR?) is ridiculous. His speeches are all fluff and devoid of substance. Where he does propose concrete measures (very few), those "changes" will result in catastrophe.

BTW, why would you compare him to Lincoln? Do you know anything at all about Lincoln?

John D. Enright said...

bryce, you'd think that IF Obama was as pro-jewish as Tzvee claims, he'd REMOVE this terrible rant on his website: How the jewish lobby works. Go figure.

Tzvee said...

why not let him know about the rant... or would that defeat your chance to say gotcha!?

Tzvee said...

i wonder if you are looking at another barack obama. the one i hear is truly gifted, very specific and visionary at the same time.

just tell me how you turn a pow into a hero? that is some feat. and shiite, sunni, what's the difference?

Anonymous said...

"this is not a cult"

his public speaking skills arent even that great. i sooner vote for tony robbins

bryce said...

"i wonder if you are looking at another barack obama. the one i //hear// is truly gifted, very specific and visionary at the same time."

That's the problem. You have to do more than "hear" him.

(Anon, that Tony Robbins joke was pretty good!)

bryce said...

New tactic guys:

Instead of finding REAL problems with Obama, lets attack Obama where Tzvee thinks it matters most: Obama's oratory skills.

Hard to get more, umm, eloquent than this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxBX8sz3tO8

(Well, there ARE a few President Bush videos that rank up there with this one, but oh well...) :-)

Tzvee said...

a few bush speeches? try every night on letterman!

John D. Enright said...

"just tell me how you turn a pow into a hero? that is some feat. and shiite, sunni, what's the difference?" The next time BO takes a tour of the 57 (with one left to go) United States, maybe he can swing by Canada and ask it's President. Or, while touring the destroyed town in Kansas where 10,000 people died, he can ask (actual death toll 12). He could have asked that question when he was in "Iowa too long" when he was actually in South Dakota. He actually should have asked that question before McCain's mistake - which he corrected immediately - since he can anticipate things. You see, he was born as a result of the Selma Civil Rights March which, ahem, happened four years after he was born.

What difference does it make anyway since Iran doesn’t “pose a serious threat to us.” Er, wait a minute . . . he also said later “I’ve made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave.”

bryce said...

"a few bush speeches? try every night on letterman!"

I brought up Bush to preempt you from bringing him up -- hopefully you'd address that Obama "speech." But alas, no luck.

andy said...

My mother remembers being wowed by Jimmy Carter's speeches when he first ran for president. Here's hoping Obama chooses a male vp so McCain can choose a woman and lock up the election.