Apart from the humor value of statements like “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family” and the grim reality of his saying to a single mother of three, “You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that,” this brings me to a separate thought.
[A brief aside, first. Generally I avoid talking about anything resembling politics here. Occasionally I link to and/or comment on something because it strikes me as particularly interesting or funny, or because it makes me think of something semi-related that I want to comment on. I still tend to avoid political discussion in general.]
On the one hand, I’m saddened by the fact that television seems to have brought us to an era where our presidents are judged more on their hair or their teeth, and on their ability to smile for the camera, than on the content of what they say. This isn’t a comment on any one president, but on the whole damn trend–although I do remember first becoming aware of this when Reagan ran for office and there were all the comments about middle-aged women voting for him because of his movie-star past. In some ways, it’s a shame that Bush gets judged on the fact that he’s a lousy public speaker and has a severe tendency toward malapropisms.
On the other hand, if one were to “hire” for the presidency, and write up a job description, public speaking would be in the job description as a major requirement. This is a man who has to explain the actions of the government to the public. He has to sway our allies and negotiate with our enemies. For better or for worse, he’s the face of the nation when others look at us. This means that he can’t afford to be a poor speaker who says things without thinking them through very carefully first. He can’t afford to blurt out rude, obnoxious, uneducated things.
No, I don’t think public speaking is the top requirement for someone who needs to be president; obviously there are more important ones. But it’s certainly something that can’t be overlooked.
And either way, the audio clips linked to on that page will induce a giggle fit in almost anyone!