Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hugh Hewitt on how Obama talks - Cadence over content

On the May 19th Edition of his show, Hugh Hewitt spent some time dissecting Obama's way of speaking. He shared with his audience what he considered Obama's "poker tell". Hugh contends that when Obama is nervous or lacks confidence on a subject he will hyper-punctuate. Using the rhythm of his voice to feign poise, what Hugh calls "Cadence over content".
I just love listening to this guy. Now that you have the tell down and you're listening to the number of pauses... there's nothing being said here, it's a cadence. It's just the cadence that's appealing. Cadence over content. He also swallows some syllables, I'm just listening here technically... he turns this stuff on and off...
Hugh labeling it a "poker tell" might be an overstatement. People generally hesitate when they are talking extemporaneously. Heavily scrutinized politicians moreso. George W Bush has a similar tic. It is noteworthy mainly because Obama is seen as a brilliant orator but considered mortal without a script. Hugh was closer to the mark when insisting Obama was measuring his words after a string of political gaffes and scrutiny over earlier statements regarding meeting with America's enemies. The best part of the audio is Hugh's Obama impersonation, talking in a mock rhythmic tone.
Listen and download the entire Hugh Hewitt segment here
Skip to 8m 33s for Hugh's Obama impression

The May 19th Edition of Time Magazine also touches on the subject of Obama's speaking style
Obama: How He Learned to Win
Obama, meanwhile, had junked his starchy speaking style in favor of something that helped him shore up his base. Dan Shomon, his campaign manager against Rush, believes Obama learned the art of public speaking at the scores of black churches he visited in 2000, absorbing the rhythm and flourishes of pastors and watching how their congregations reacted. David Mendell notes in his biography of Obama how the candidate would "drop into a Southern drawl, pepper his prose with a neatly placed 'ya'll' and call up various black colloquialisms." He rarely missed a chance to speak at Sunday services in black churches
Being well-spoken and showing poise are effective ways of projecting leadership, valuable qualities that can't be faked but can be developed and improved upon. In politics sometimes you need to attract people by talking the talk only then will you be given the chance to show you can also walk the walk.

Just a bonus feature for the wrestling fans. Like Hugh impersonating Obama's sometimes plodding delivery, WWE wrestler John Cena mocked rival Randy Orton's monotone speech in a recent episode of RAW.
Click to view video: John Cena subtly mocking Randy Orton
Cena's impersonation begins at the 20s mark

No comments: