I’ve listened to quite a bit of Obama’s Berlin speech (some parts of it over and over), and I’m going to flat out disagree with the media and pundits claiming that he is a great orator. I do a fair bit of speaking in front of the public, and have been a fan of some of the better speeches over the years. If this is an example of Obama’s best effort, it is pretty bad.
Look, a great speech needs to have three things going for it. It needs to have a strong theme, it needs a coherent structure, and it needs good delivery. The Berlin speech had only one of them, delivery. I literally found myself zoning out listening to the words, because they were just a jumble of random thoughts delivered with a nice cadence. The phenomena of Obamamanics may be due to literal hyponosis.
When you have listened to a great speech, you can sum up the entire experience into a single sound bite that delivered the theme of the speech in a single line punctuating the message. It is what the people leave with as the message in their hearts. Look at examples from the past:
Lincoln: “these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Roosevelt: “December 7th, 1946, a day that will live in infamy”
Kennedy: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
Churchill: “We will never surrender”
King: “I have dream this afternoon that the brotherhood of man will become a reality this day”
Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall!”
Other than “I am a citizen of the world” and “This is our moment”, where is the structure and driving theme from Obama’s speech? I can’t find it, I don’t think it exists. The only theme I take from the speech is that this is the world’s “moment” to deify him. As a speech, it really sucked.