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What Makes Obama a Good Speaker?
The New York Observer ^ | February 15, 2008 | Alvin Chang

Posted on 02/16/2008 6:37:19 AM PST by vietvet67

After studying the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, linguist Mark Liberman found that their speaking styles are “radically different.”

Then there’s Barack Obama.

His keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly earned him a reputation as one of the Democratic Party’s great contemporary orators. And that reputation has only been further hyped since the beginning of the presidential campaign, most recently because of the wildly popular music video, “Yes We Can,” which set to music Obama’s primary night speech in New Hampshire. The video, created by Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am, was released on Feb. 2 and has been viewed almost 10 million times on YouTube and yeswecansong.com.

Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks the most distinctive thing about Obama’s speeches isn’t the delivery, but the lyricism in the writing.

“You can take a short phrase like that, spoken any kind of way as long as it’s not dragged out, and sing over it,” he said. “There’s also a certain amount of repetition — the ‘Yes We Can’ theme — that allows this kind of weaving of vocal lines. But if that’s right, then what’s really musical about that speech was not so much its delivery, but its composition. It was written like a song, but not performed like a song.”

Linguist Geoff Nunberg, too, sees elements of Obama’s speeches that he says lend themselves to song.

“He does these parallel constructions,” said Nunberg, a researcher at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information. “For example, he says, ‘It’s not because of this, it’s not because of that.’”

(Excerpt) Read more at observer.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: barackhusseinobama; nobama; obama
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Good speaker that says nothing..Thank you teleprompter.
1 posted on 02/16/2008 6:37:23 AM PST by vietvet67
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To: vietvet67

Giggle. He is the last of his party.


2 posted on 02/16/2008 6:38:29 AM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote.)
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To: vietvet67

As El Rushbo said he is a blank canvas onto which you can place whatever it is you want to hear.


3 posted on 02/16/2008 6:39:54 AM PST by octobersky
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To: freekitty

What makes Obama a good speaker? (He isn’t) MSM says so.
Just like Hillary is the smartest woman (DOH).


4 posted on 02/16/2008 6:40:32 AM PST by JaneNC (I)
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To: vietvet67
I asked that question to answers.com

You asked What Makes Obama a Good Speaker. Here are some answers found on the web: Your version of American history is disturbing. Your inaccuracies are dumbfounding. So it doesn't surprise me that you are a Obama supporter based on your fictional version of history

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/_84303.html

Re: Obama is a good speaker but has no message and will never get elected

http://community.comcast.net/comcastportal/board/message?board....

He is a good speaker but not a leader http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2007/12/30/obamas_midd...

Of course Obama is a good speaker , he is kin to Dick Cheney

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1967903/posts

5 posted on 02/16/2008 6:41:47 AM PST by IllumiNaughtyByNature (Hillary Clinton - It's OBAMAS Party and She'll Cry if She Wants to?)
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To: vietvet67

It’s the timbre of his voice, his quasi-impersonation of Martin Luther King Jr. - whom we are taught/conditioned to revere, but this is because of the ideals King expressed. Obama is using a bit of trickery to conjure up those images of King and Kennedy to fool people into thinking he, too, has ideas of merit. Far better for people to read his speeches and judge them for their content.


6 posted on 02/16/2008 6:42:58 AM PST by Apparatchik
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To: vietvet67

He’s not a good speaker. His voice is melodious and he is speaking to the short attention span crowd. Peace! Love! Blah! Blah! Blah!


7 posted on 02/16/2008 6:43:13 AM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: vietvet67

Another thing that helps is that he’s black and you can understand every word that he says. Now there I went and said it. lol

Michael Steele should have run for the nomination. He would have been a great counter to Obama, and 100x better than McCain. Of course being a conservative, he wouldn’t have stood a chance in hell of winning the republican nomination.


8 posted on 02/16/2008 6:43:27 AM PST by KoRn (CTHULHU '08 - I won't settle for a lesser evil any longer!)
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To: vietvet67

What makes him a great speaker is he has great timing, rhythm, flow, pitch, inflections etc. Being a great speaker isn’t always about what you say. It’s HOW you say it. There is no doubt that he has a learned talent for public speaking.


9 posted on 02/16/2008 6:45:42 AM PST by kjam22 (see me play the guitar here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noHy7Cuoucc)
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To: vietvet67

Yes, we can change because change brings hope and without hope there is no change and the change that I will bring with your help is a change that is full of hope, for a change.


10 posted on 02/16/2008 6:45:52 AM PST by RepublitarianRoger2
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To: kjam22

What? Have you seen him in debate?
He fumbles and hims and haws all the time.

He is not a good speaker.


11 posted on 02/16/2008 6:46:37 AM PST by JaneNC (I)
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To: Apparatchik
It’s the timbre of his voice, his quasi-impersonation of Martin Luther King Jr. - whom we are taught/conditioned to revere, but this is because of the ideals King expressed.

Exactamundo!!! Like this: "You see, it's because I have B-E-E-E--EEEEN to the mountain top; and I have SE-E-E-E-EEEEN (shakes head) the promised land." And he sells his vacuous message by that very inflection. It's pretty amazing, actually.

12 posted on 02/16/2008 6:47:40 AM PST by Migraine (...diversity is great... until it happens to YOU...)
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To: JaneNC

He is a very good speech giver.


13 posted on 02/16/2008 6:49:24 AM PST by kjam22 (see me play the guitar here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noHy7Cuoucc)
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To: kjam22

“It’s HOW you say it.”

I heard a speech of Obama in South Carolina. He spoke slowly and in a distinct southern drawl. Growing up in Hawaii you don’t pick up that kind of accent. So basically he is phony!


14 posted on 02/16/2008 6:50:31 AM PST by BeAllYouCanBe (Until Americans love their own children more than they love Nancy Pelosi this suicide will continue.)
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To: vietvet67

What Makes Obama a Good Speaker?

An ignorant audience.


15 posted on 02/16/2008 6:51:39 AM PST by Son House (The Democrat's High Tax Rates Suppress American Freedom, Opportunity and Jobs..)
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To: octobersky

As El Rushbo said he is a blank canvas onto which you can place whatever it is you want to hear.

Yes, which is a great opportunity for Republicans. They need to get out there and define him as the infanticide supporting, America-hating, UN-loving, Black Value System, I want to tax you into oblivion, global socialist that he is.


16 posted on 02/16/2008 6:51:51 AM PST by KansasGirl
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To: kjam22
What makes him a great speaker is he has great timing, rhythm, flow, pitch, inflections etc.

This was the correct answer. His voice has a pleasing timbre and he has good awareness of his body as he speaks. He is comfortable speaking, and exudes confidence.

He could read the Chicago Phone Book and it would sound good.

17 posted on 02/16/2008 6:52:19 AM PST by Yaelle
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To: vietvet67

A failed Austrian artist was also a good speaker.


18 posted on 02/16/2008 6:52:44 AM PST by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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To: vietvet67
What Makes Obama a Good Speaker?

Oh, let me guess. Could it be Satan??

19 posted on 02/16/2008 6:55:33 AM PST by the invisib1e hand (anyone can be a soldier in peacetime.)
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To: vietvet67
Good speaker that says nothing..Thank you teleprompter.

Yeah, absolutely nailed it in one. He is the most blank slate everything to every listener con man of a politician ever. When he speaks he is so empty, so vacuous that every listener is able to project what ever they want to believe onto him and believe he is promising it to them. He can say what ever he wants and his fans will simply lap it up. Talk about real mind numbed robots!

20 posted on 02/16/2008 6:55:36 AM PST by MNJohnnie (http://www.iraqvetsforcongress.com ---- Get involved, make a difference.)
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To: BeAllYouCanBe
I heard a speech of Obama in South Carolina. He spoke slowly and in a distinct southern drawl. Growing up in Hawaii you don’t pick up that kind of accent.

I knew a gay man before he "came out" and he spoke like any other man. After "coming out of the closet," this man took it upon himself to put a little more gaydar-catching accent into his speech. I am sure Obama has done the same, trying to accentuate his blackness.

After all, he had no American black family until he married. He would have had to acquire any kind of an American black "flavor" to his voice to ease his affiliation.

21 posted on 02/16/2008 6:55:42 AM PST by Yaelle
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To: sageb1
He’s not a good speaker. His voice is melodious and he is speaking to the short attention span crowd

Who would you rather listen to Papa singing you a lullaby or nails on a chalk board?
22 posted on 02/16/2008 6:56:44 AM PST by boxerblues
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To: JaneNC
He is not a good speaker.

He is a good reader. Take his telepromter and speech writers away and he is a disaster waiting to happen.

23 posted on 02/16/2008 6:58:44 AM PST by MNJohnnie (http://www.iraqvetsforcongress.com ---- Get involved, make a difference.)
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To: Yaelle

You are right. I saw a video of him singing “If I only had McCain”, sung to the tune of the Wizard of Oz’s “If I only had a brain” and his pitch was perfect. He has a great voice.


24 posted on 02/16/2008 6:59:21 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: vietvet67
Immigrants have been using the "Yes, we can" slogan for years.

However, now the illegals have taken up the cry in spanish.

25 posted on 02/16/2008 7:00:47 AM PST by raybbr (You think it's bad now - wait till the anchor babies start to vote!)
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To: vietvet67

This technique is the same as what a lot of black preachers use when talking to their congregations. Martin Luther King used it all the time to include his speech on the Washington Mall. It’s all in voice inflection, timing and repitition. Another guy who was considered a great orator of his time was “Adolph Hitler”. Get Obama away from his speeches, he’s an empty suit.


26 posted on 02/16/2008 7:03:14 AM PST by Old Retired Army Guy (tHE)
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To: vietvet67

Pie in the sky hyperbole.
He’s not only going to change America, (whatever that means) he’s going to change the world.


27 posted on 02/16/2008 7:04:08 AM PST by nuconvert (There are bad people in the pistachio business.)
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To: vietvet67
He’s so full of.....hope.Hopeful people in America hear the hope that Osama has and,hopefully,will elect him President.We can only hope that Osama’s namesake,Osama Bin Laden,doesn’t grin from ear to ear whenever he hears the word “hope” these days.
28 posted on 02/16/2008 7:08:56 AM PST by Gay State Conservative (Wanna see how bad it can get? Elect Hillary and find out.)
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To: the invisib1e hand

You and I might think alike. He is like the anti-Christ.
All of the sudden he slithers out from under and rock and here he is. I had never heard of him till this election process started.


29 posted on 02/16/2008 7:13:02 AM PST by Piquaboy (22 year veteran of the Army, Air Force and Navy, Pray for all our military .)
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To: colorcountry; greyfoxx39
What Makes Obama a Good Speaker?

2 1/2 minute talks in Sunday school copied from someone else or the Ensign. God forbid an original thought.

It's not what you say, it's how you say it that matters.

Oh if I could just give you my Fisher Beer speech!

30 posted on 02/16/2008 7:13:11 AM PST by Utah Binger (Statesmanship requires having no religious hangups; being owned by no one)
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To: vietvet67
Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks the most distinctive thing about Obama’s speeches isn’t the delivery, but the lyricism in the writing.

Okay, so then Obama's 'day job' should be that of a Song Writer (aka Lyricist). Isn't that about it?

An aside, Stephen A. Douglas was a 'good speaker' too but that didn't help him against Abe Lincoln, did it. And Daniel Webster was no slouch - 'greatest orator of his time' - but I can't recall a 'President Webster' either.

31 posted on 02/16/2008 7:14:46 AM PST by Condor51 (Vote for McInsane or Ugga-Bugga? Decisions, decisions, decisions.)
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To: Piquaboy
He is like the anti-Christ.

Unfortunately, there is some disagreement about this.

32 posted on 02/16/2008 7:16:10 AM PST by the invisib1e hand (anyone can be a soldier in peacetime.)
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To: Zuben Elgenubi
I would love to see that clip of Obama singing "If I Only Had McCain." How hilarious would that be now since he may well get McCain as his presidential campaign opponent? I have found a transcript of that speech, from the Gridiron dinner of 2006, and it's quite funny.

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2006/04/need_a_laugh_se.html

33 posted on 02/16/2008 7:17:31 AM PST by Yaelle
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To: vietvet67

It’s not the “Audacity of Hope”, it’s the opacity of dope.


34 posted on 02/16/2008 7:20:28 AM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: Don Corleone
A failed Austrian artist was also a good speaker.

A good speaker was a also a failed president (WJC).

35 posted on 02/16/2008 7:21:46 AM PST by Starboard
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To: Yaelle

Empty suit meets empty brains.


36 posted on 02/16/2008 7:23:13 AM PST by spokeshave (Hey GOP...NO money till border closed and criminal illegals deported)
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To: the invisib1e hand

I will stick to my theory.


37 posted on 02/16/2008 7:23:25 AM PST by Piquaboy (22 year veteran of the Army, Air Force and Navy, Pray for all our military .)
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To: vietvet67

hE DOESN’T SOUND LIKE fINGERNAILS ON A bLACKBOARD!


38 posted on 02/16/2008 7:24:01 AM PST by Ann Archy (Abortion.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: MNJohnnie
With Obama its not just him, its his audience and mutual romance.

You have to “give” yourself to him emotionally for his speech to work. Obama is also giving himself to the audience, stroking them emotionally.

He has found a way for democrats to have emotional orgasms.

Similar to Elvis on stage, stroking the fantasies of women longing for romance, and men wishing they had his role on the stage.

39 posted on 02/16/2008 7:24:58 AM PST by PA-RIVER
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To: vietvet67

Obama is NOT a good speaker. His method is to take highly scripted statements and add ‘inspirational’ inflection. But he has no real rhythm and he is incapable of thinking on his feet with the same inflection. He’s an oratory fraud.

If you want to hear a great speaker listen to Christopher Hitchens.


40 posted on 02/16/2008 7:24:59 AM PST by navyguy (Some days you are the pigeon, some days you are the statue.)
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To: raybbr
However, now the illegals have taken up the cry in spanish.

Actually, it was the battle cry for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers way back in 1972. As soon as I heard Obama chant, "Yes, we can", I knew he had just translated it from "Si, se puede".

41 posted on 02/16/2008 7:26:54 AM PST by Inspectorette
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To: vietvet67

Good speaker that says nothing.

It’s not his voice, it’s the constant motion of his hands...
he’s either hypnotizing or casting a spell!!!!!!!!!!


42 posted on 02/16/2008 7:28:08 AM PST by FES0844 (FES0844)
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To: JaneNC

“”He fumbles and hims and haws all the time.

He is not a good speaker.”

His speaking irritates me no end because he does exactly as you say - he pauses, he hesitates. I have to say that someone has been working on him as he’s gotten better compared to 6 months ago but still irritating to listen to. I’m not buying the “great orator” that the MSM is peddling.


43 posted on 02/16/2008 7:35:22 AM PST by Thank You Rush
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To: vietvet67

If Obama weren’t a politician by trade he would be selling sleazy get rich real estate schemes on TV between the hours of 0200-0500 everyday. He’s the Billy Mays of campaigning.


44 posted on 02/16/2008 7:36:07 AM PST by TADSLOS ( McCain tears the Constitution down. His son defends it. The irony is thick.)
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To: vietvet67

The true mark of a good speaker is one who can deliver an impassioned or thoughtful speech extemporaneously. Obambi speaks well when he has the teleprompter or if he stays on script with soundbites. Aside from that, he’s a poor speaker.


45 posted on 02/16/2008 7:37:43 AM PST by ought-six
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To: Apparatchik
It’s the timbre of his voice, his quasi-impersonation of Martin Luther King Jr. - whom we are taught/conditioned to revere, but this is because of the ideals King expressed. Obama is using a bit of trickery to conjure up those images of King and Kennedy to fool people into thinking he, too, has ideas of merit. Far better for people to read his speeches and judge them for their content.

Absolutely spot on. That's why I no longer dismiss him as an empty suit. IMHO, this illusion is no more a singular function of Obama's "charisma" than David Copperfield's feats are solely a product of talent. I'm less concerned about Obama's current stage crew than I am with the ones who conceived the illusion to begin with.

46 posted on 02/16/2008 7:44:35 AM PST by Eroteme
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To: vietvet67

He “sounds” relatively black for having been raised in a white family. Is he faking his “black” accent?


47 posted on 02/16/2008 7:48:39 AM PST by Theo (Global warming "scientists." Pro-evolution "scientists." They're both wrong.)
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To: ought-six
Unfortunately, He doesn't need to give a good speech off the cuff.

He running against McCain, who is instinctively repugnant to 90 percent of the population.

Old, pushy, and arrogant, with a solid reputation for backstabbing. Like a brown nosing kid who rats out on his friends to get the pat on the head and gain favor. Repugnant.

48 posted on 02/16/2008 7:54:47 AM PST by PA-RIVER
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To: sageb1
He’s not a good speaker. His voice is melodious and he is speaking to the short attention span crowd. Peace! Love! Blah! Blah! Blah!

It's all about who he is speaking to. His crowds remind me of WWE fans who show each week to chant along with their favorite wrestlers catch phrases. His speeches do nothing for me because I am not interested in any of his change. I understand all his change comes with a price, which is loss of freedom and higher taxes.

49 posted on 02/16/2008 7:55:43 AM PST by pepperhead (Kennedy's float, Mary Jo's don't!)
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To: Condor51
Your point is well taken. But, the difference between Douglas, Webster and politicians of today is the media environment in which we live.

Today, we never elect FDR because of his handicap. Today, style trumps substance. Today, Obama is seen as great communicator no matter what he says.

We all want “what” he says to matter, but right now it doesn’t. Hopefully, it will by election day.

As my own aside, all of this is compounded by the fact that President Bush often communicates very poorly, no matter how well his speeches are written. He would be measurably more well regarded if he had half the skill as his predecessor or Obama.

We may not like the fact that oratory seemingly trumps substance, but for the electorate writ large, it is beginning to do so.

50 posted on 02/16/2008 7:57:23 AM PST by shadowfighter
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