Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nation or America. What's The Difference? Answer: the Difference between Black and White, Between Global Reality and Hubris

And The Difference Between Brilliance and Stupidity

When I created a "wordle" out of President Obama's Inaugural Speech, a funny thing happened: it showed an enormous difference between today's speech and George W. Bush's "Farewell Address" to the country. President Obama is a careful orator: every word and nuance is studied again and again. Bush's speeches always seemed slap-dash because he so desperately wanted to seem just like one of the back-slapping "good ole boys". As I've written before, he hoped he could channel Will Rogers. Even in formal speeches, like the "Farewell Address" a vague off-hand manner persisted. This was truly a cowboy who, aw shucks, just couldn't cotton to real formal speechifyin'. At least that was what he wanted people to think about him. Thankfully, reading between the lines of its country's president has been a well taught subject in America.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the outgoing speech and the incoming speech is the use of the words NATION and AMERICA. First of all, they are reverse in importance. In Bush's speech, AMERICA is the largest word (due its being said the most times). In Obama's speech, NATION was the larger of the two. How is this significant? Bush's doctrine of global imperialism places AMERICA outside the rest of the speech and far away from other ideologies. Wasn't this Bush's concept of America? It was obvious that Bush never knew anything about other countries. He would spout the buzz words Karl Rove had told him to: freedom, liberty, equality, free elections, democracy. And there were times he looked positively baffled at who these people were. His worldview is a commonwealth of sorts paying homage to the king - America.

With Obama's speech, NATION gives equivalence to other countries. He avoids hyperbole when referring to America's greatness. His speech is, therefore, much more diplomatic. That is to be expected.

With George W. Bush, America tried to lead the world. With President Obama, we are at last one with the world.

Just a thought.
Wordle: Bush's Farewell Speech: How America Was TreatedWordle: The Obama Inaugural Speech Includes America
Click on each Wordle for a large, more readable version.