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How Uninteresting

Mar 31, 2009

Bobby Jindal was recently slammed by pundits for presenting a weak response to Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress. One of the primary charges leveled against Jindal was that he repeated "stale" cliches, which is a particularly uninteresting and superficial analysis, because Obama's speeches are little more than cliches wrapped in the rhetoric of "change."

Stylistically, one of the differences between Jindal's speech and Obama's is that Obama's platitudes are self-righteous while Jindal's platitudes are self-adulating. Their delivery may be different, but who cares; the content is the same. Consider for example some of the statements made during Obama's inaugural speech; "We will not apologize for our way of life"; "loyalty and patriotism ... [t]hese things are true"; "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

Aside from Obama's self-righteous lack of apology, his overall "message ... offered a virtual blank slate on which supporters could write their wishes. One could search websites for position papers, but correlation of these to policies is hardly spectacular."

What might prove genuinely interesting about the Jindal-Obama discourse would be a meta-analysis, reviewing the text of both speeches and isolating points of congruency; phrases, ideas, and strategies that both have in common. Of course, the question then becomes how we define "interesting."