Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You're either with us or against us

Joseph, veteran political speech analyst, is asked by an interviewer whether Barack Obama will be different from George Bush.


Joseph: If you look at the speeches they make, you see differences. George Bush uses a lot of the first person: “ I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security.”

Interviewer: Whereas Barack Obama…?

Joseph: Barack Obama uses “We” a lot. “We face a lot of problems.”

Interviewer: So this shows a difference in style? George Bush tends to be unilateral, Barack Obama, multilateral?

Joseph: Definitely. And there’s another defining characteristic between them. George Bush, talking about terrorism, used the expression, “You’re either with us or against us.” It’s a polarizing expression. Black vs. white. No room in the middle for maneouvering.

Interviewer: Or dialogue presumably.

Joseph: Right. A zero tolerancy approach. Hard power. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is a proponent of soft power. It’s a multinational world. “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.”

Interviewer: The speechmaker molds the leader we see?

Joseph: Partly. But an authoritarian, polarizing approach can also be a reflection of an insecure leader. They put up false dilemmas. Either… or… The secure leader listens and synthesizes. 


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