After watching three days of Republican Convention, and now three days of the Democratic Convention, Kish and I are reaching the point of speech saturation. I think I can make it through President Obama’s speech without suffering peroration poisoning — but it’s going to be close.
The sad fact is, there just aren’t many good speakers or speechwriters in either party. Most of the speeches are hopelessly generic. Everyone seems to talk about their families coming from nothing and their parents sacrificing. Everyone relates some interaction with a generic American citizen — “in east Bejeebus, I met an ex-autoworker named Mel . . . .” — to illustrate some tired point. Everyone tries to get the audience repeat some limp catch phrase, time and time again, until the viewer is ready to hurl a Coke can through the TV screen. Except for Clint Eastwood, there’s not much originality out there.
The deliveries usually aren’t much better. For every high-energy speaker like former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, there are dozens of deadpan, monotone snore-inducers. Most have no sense of timing and can’t deliver a punch line; they don’t know how to use facial expressions or gestures to accentuate the words. They stand stiffly, turning their heads from side to side like a robot, reading off the teleprompters. Even worse, however, are those people who think they are just about the most clever, entertaining personalities imaginable; their mugging and winking is intolerable.
Tonight, we’re seeing more of the same. Sigh. President Obama’s speech can’t get here soon enough.