I once attended a reception hosted by the local French governor for the elites of a French colony. After about an hour of hors d’ouevres and champagne, we stood on his veranda while the Prefect presented his government’s plans for the colony. His speech went on for over and hour. The “natives” were restless. So was I. No wonder the colonies revolted and the French lost their empire.
The same process seems to be occurring in the U.S. This time, the perpetrator is Obama. I recently sat through three of his speeches: at the State Department on the Middle East; in Ireland to the hundreds of thousands of Dubliners standing on city streets; and at the AIPAC national convention in Washington.
I have spent more than 50 years as a professional student of the Middle East. I was eager to hear what the President had to say. But about three quarters of the way through his hour-long remarks, I started to shift in my seat and then struggled to keep my mind from wandering.
Watching the Dublin speech live, I couldn’t help but think of all those people pressed together and standing up. He went on too long for them. He went on too long for me. How many examples of Irish contributions to the development of the U.S. did I have to hear about?
Then there was AIPAC. It was not a friendly audience. They were seated. But his very act of trying to defend his positions on Israel while winning their support for campaign funding and election votes led to convolution and heavy content.
The question that most interests me is whether these verbal ‘long marches’ indicate that the President is becoming grandiose. If that were the case, in the process he would be losing touch with his audience. It was his rhetoric that largely propelled him to the White House. He may lose that asset in 2012.
Of course, he still has his life story. That kind of story might even be able to propel me to the White House.