Presidential Speeches: Week in Review

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to break down presidential speeches and pick their favorite “Bush-ism.”

1.)  This week we celebrated presidents in honor of the upcoming President’s Day.  If you could throw a party this Monday for any president who would it be?  Who deserves the most recognition on this day?

Aubrey: Teddy Roosevelt.  Anyone that speaks softly and carries a big stick gets my attention.  Also, as a Washington Nationals fan and an avid watcher of the “President’s Race” during the fourth inning I can only say, “Let Teddy Win!

Emily:  Really?  Teddy?  I mean, I think he is great but am surprised he is your #1.  I love Thomas Jefferson and would love to throw a book party in his honor on Monday.  I’d also like to celebrate my love for Ronald Reagan by watching a lot of movies on my couch.

2.)  The post on Wednesday highlighted the beauty of a well-crafted catch phrase in a presidential speech.  What is your favorite line or phrase in a presidential speech?  

Aubrey: Alright, so I really liked some of the phrasing in the 2012 State of the Union.  Nothing please me more than the parallelism of “I will not back down, I will not back down” with a final transition to “I will not go back.”  So clever.

Emily:  Completely agree.  I can appreciate well-turned phrases and nice style.  However, nothing makes me smile more than purposeful structure and a framing device.

3.)  This week I highlighted my love and devotion to the “Gettysburg Address” as one of the greatest presidential speeches .  Do you agree?  If not, what speech would you suggest as the best American speech?

Aubrey: Honestly, if I had to pick a non-president it would be anything by Clarence Darrow but especially his speech in defense of Leopold and Loeb.  I love that jowly orator.  As far as president’s go I’d take Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural every single day of the week.  Any speech that begins with,  “This is a day of national consecration” beats everything else.  Period.
:  I can only do excerpts of Leopold and Loeb.  There is no need for a 12-hour closing argument.  Obscene.  It’s well-written, sure, but how did the poor jury survive it?  Great speech though…just too lengthy for me put it as one of the best.

4.)  Being a powerful orator is a priceless presidential skill…something George W. Bush was sadly missing.  What was your favorite “Bush-ism” or moment when he bungled a speech/words?

Aubrey: Personally, I think it’s hard to speak on command all of the time.  That does not excuse using the word “misunderestimate.”

Emily:  I laugh until I cry when watching youtube videos of his bloopers.  Man, was he funny.  I know he will not go down as the best president in our nation’s history, but he certainly made us laugh.  “Nuclear.”  “Nuclear.”  “Nuclear.”

5.)  Which job do you find more desirable:  write the president’s speeches or be a journalist who critiques them?  Why?  

Aubrey: While clever and witty, I’m too mean to be a speech writer.  I would just start making a list of people/events/foreign affairs that are bothering me/the president.  I’m fairly certain that my sharp eye for identifying irritation would be better focused as a journalist.  Maybe someone like Maureen Dowd.

Emily:  I think you’re right.  I, too, might be too mean (I like to think of it as cynical); however, I think I’d enjoy the task of being a speech writer.  Devising ways to balance the argument with voice while still being cognizant of a variety of audiences seems like a challenge I would like to accept!

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