After midnight on Saturday morning, Kevin McCarthy finally managed to garner the votes needed to become Speaker of the House. But before he took the gavel and delivered his victory speech, Hakeem Jeffries walked to the podium.
The newly-minted leader of the Democrat caucus delivered remarks that have members of the left losing their minds. Comparison to Barack Obama began immediately and low-rated MSNBC hosts swooned. This was the greatest speech since Obama’s 2004 DNC address, some proclaimed while others insisted he took the GOP to “school.”
If you are up, please turn on your tv (@MSNBC) and listen to the leader of the Dem caucus, Hakeem Jeffries. He is delivering an amazing speech right now. He is not using a prompter. Just paper and passion.
— Symone D. Sanders-Townsend (@SymoneDSanders) January 7, 2023
— MeidasTouch (@MeidasTouch) January 7, 2023
— RogueWhiteHouse 🇺🇦 🌻 (@whitehouserogue) January 7, 2023
Seeing those reactions, I can’t help but wonder if we watched the same speech. Am I supposed to be wowed by Jeffries using a comically childish rhetorical device, i.e. using words stated in alphabetical order to extol the supposed virtues of the Democratic Party? It was painful listening to him spew cliches like “freedom over fascism” and “people over politics” as he walked through each letter.
All the while, he delivered his speech with all the rhetorical skills of a middle-school debate club member. His halting way of speaking was certainly meant to mimic Barack Obama, but it came across as the Dollar General version of such. Never mind the hand movements that made him seem as if he snorted a line of cocaine before walking into the chamber.
Toward the end of the speech, Jeffries was so infatuated with the applause he was getting that he could barely contain himself. “Yes we can over you can’t do it,” he continued as he rushed toward the finish line, partially stealing a line from Obama’s 2008 campaign. At that point, Jeffries’ hands were moving so fast, it looked like he was about to take flight. Finally, he finished with a hackish attempt to mimic a Southern Baptist preacher.
Contrary to the effuse praise he received, I wasn’t impressed at all, and not just because I disagree with him politically. I’ve seen Democrats give good speeches, and that wasn’t it. The entire thing was cringe and amateurish, befitting for a man who is nowhere near ready for primetime.
But aside from the content and delivery, Jeffries’ remarks were made more ludicrous by the fact that they were a complete misrepresentation of who he is. He’s not a unifying figure valiantly protecting democracy. He’s a kooky progressive who believes Donald Trump was an illegitimate president. He’s a nutjob who, just days prior, asserted that Democrats need to retake the House “immediately,” sounding as if he was ready to lead an insurrection.
Have no doubt, Democrats and their media allies are going to do their best to make Jeffries into a superstar. In fact, the talk of him running in 2024 has already started. Does he actually have that ability, though? I don’t see it.