What we learned from Joe Biden's latest speech. Including: how you develop a theme, from first paragraph to last. Plus, oratory as sub-tweet.
Thanks for your commentary on this excellent speech - as a onetime speech writer, I appreciate your analysis of the craft and themes that went into this excellent address. I must add that I, too, often wonder why Biden doesn't give these speeches in "primetime," in the evening, from the Oval Office. But it's been explained to me that such an approach worked when we all watched the same three TV networks and subscribed to morning newspapers, but it wouldn't work in today's diffuse, splintered media. By delivering these addresses during the day (usually, in the morning) he sets the tone and agenda for the news coverage that follows. It's actually timed and designed for maximum impact. Almost the opposite of what we saw with Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan et al. One of the impacts of the many cable news outlets, social media and 24-hour coverage.
I have been pleasantly surprised that the media reaction to this speech that I have seen has been positive. That is about the only positive coverage of Biden I have seen lately. According to them our economy is terrible.
Could not stop reading. I found this to be a heartfelt message. The truth cannot be smothered out. Thank you
Why shucks, Jim, I’m just a country boy...
Snooty is a double edged sword in the hands of an Ivy Leager, but I jest. I only hope the sentient part of the body politic responds to Biden’s speech.
Thank you for another great article, author! I hope that you and yours are having the best New Year ever!
This was such a wonderful speech by President Biden
We've forgotten what an historic Presidential speech is like, after so many years of wh corruption.
The speech was magnetic, riveting, and should be watched in all poli sci classes.
The reaction after the speech on faux news has to be watched.
Right after the speech, they were in complete confusion.
How to respond to the valiant cry of patriotism ?
They had no clue about how to respond to honesty, integrity.
For hours, the anchors struggled to interpret this deep, thoughtful Presidential speech. Struggled with the concepts of putting others first, of self-sacrifice, compassion. It was like the cargo cults seeing the airplanes for the first time. Wonder at something only seen in a dream.
The speech was planned that way. It brings the listener out of the dark labyrinth, out onto the path of honor, compassion, patriotism, goodness - a true path that will confound any fraudster used to the big lies.
Words can lift us up, show us the road to the future, heal our fears about the current world war of science versus an unthinking germ.
This is a President for our times.
Thanks James Fallows, for a very interesting interpretation of the speech!
“We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.” — Anand Giridharadas
quote cited at Professor Larry Tribe website
Thanks, Jim, for an excellent analysis. Let’s hope it galvanises the nation. My only quibble is your reference to chiasmus as “snooty”. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t invoke it. Stay well, my friend.
Yes, a wonderful speech. Excellent breakdown; thank you. I think this may be his Lincoln at Gettysburg moment, so you were his Garry Wills. Now, I hope there will be action - resourceful and sustained. A great speech, really well delivered is not nearly enough. This isn't rock/scissors/paper and you don't bring a speech alone to a knife fight.
So glad I heard today in SF/ FORUM on KQED about your newest for BREAKING THE NEWS.
It was refreshing to hear Biden speak so well and forcefully, and even more encouraging to read your analysis. I hope at the speech and the analysis reach at least some of the people on the other side.
I SO enjoy when you do this analysis, Jim!