By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog
Here's a speechwriter's idea of a good time: Don't watch the video of yesterday's speeches by the President and former Vice President on national security. Instead, read both speeches—free from any audience, the staged backdrop, even the sound of their voices.
It's kind of like the 1960 Presidential debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Those who watched on TV thought Kennedy won. Those who listened on radio thought Nixon did.
Chances are, if you watch the video of yesterday's speeches, you'll think President Obama won. But if you read the transcripts online, you might think Vice President Cheney won, as I did.
Without all the visual distractions of the video, you can only compare texts when you read it. Obama goes on and on about the different classifications of detainees, and the whole seems like a constitutional law seminar. Cheney's speech tells a compelling story, is more concise and colorful, and makes a solid case for why we haven't had a second attack.
Both are long, but when you read them straight through, President Obama's speech is lecturing, boring, and reads like a legal brief written by lawyers. One woman I spoke with thought it had a "bullying" tone to it; I thought he implied that people who disagreed with his position on the war on terror have no values, which simply isn't the case. Former Vice President Cheney's speech, on the other hand was well written, and eviscerates Obama's approach to torture, Guantanamo Bay, the 'truth commission' and the overall war on terror so far. You get the feeling of what it really would be like to be evacuated to the White House bunker, and watch attacks against Americans on television.
It really made Cheney, for the first time in memory, actually seem human. At least on paper.
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