flowing motion

Speeches for unity

Posted on: January 22, 2008

Barack Obama

I’m hesitant to analyze it lest I detract from its impact.  What is interesting is that the “deficit” is conceived as an enemy, not part of his own side.  There is a lesson here for managers, I think.

2 Responses to "Speeches for unity"

Do you see how Obama’s speech is deeply anchored in the preaching tradition of the USA black church? Much of his rhetoric is American feel-good populism.

There is a very naked deficit Obama does not dwell on. The American rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality, etc. are among the very worst in the OECD, especially if you cast Mexico, Poland, and Turkey out of the OECD. (They are included in the OECD only by courtesy.) The American way of paying for health care is not an evident primary contributor to these grim statistics.

The problem is that millions of Americans eat too much and badly. They also go through life incapable of making informed basic lifestyle choices. Poor health outcomes go hand in hand with weak effective learning in most USA public schools. People whose minds are in a fog about basic cause and effect in human physiology, who leave a doctor’s office even more puzzled than when they entered it, are likely to do things which will impair their long run health outcomes.

That is Obama’s brilliance. He does not dwell on the negative. He takes the negative and makes it an abstract enemy which we will defeat using what is positive about us.

It is an important rhetorical trick for setting up positive goals.

Talking about the what is wrong just makes us very knowledgeable about what is wrong. It cannot take us to what is good.

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