Shrub, Part II

John S. Drew wrote:

I finally realized who Bush reminded me of as he gives speeches after watching this last one – a high school debate team member. He’s nervous, full of ticks and his accent comes on strong as it does for most people when they are nervous or angry.

As someone who has spent a lot of time working with high school debaters–judging rounds, critiquing speeches, coaching kids–I can say honestly that equating George W. Bush with a high school debater gives him a lot of credit. He certainly makes a number of high school debaters I’ve known look good.

Some high school debaters fit that nervous view–the vaguely nerdy guy who can’t say three coherent words without stammering or loud enough for even Superman and his Super-Hearing to catch. Most, however, fit a different profile–knowledgeable kids who can think quickly on their feet and talk faster than the MicroMachines pitchman and loud enough that a nursing home patient could lose her hearing aid and still be able to follow to speech.

Also, debaters tend to be liberal in thought and outlook. Or at least, left-of-center. Can’t say that for George W. Bush, either. Though I should qualify this; college debaters tend to be more liberal, high school debaters don’t have any clear political leanings, and where they do they tend to follow whatever political bent their coaches impose on their argumentation. On the other hand, during the Russia topic two (or was it three?) years ago the affirmative case I wrote for the Virginia HS tournament for my kids to run was very, very right-of-center (bomb Kosovo and launch a NATO ground war in the Balkans to empower the Russian nationalists and topple the ineffective Yeltsin regime, with effects being a better US presence in Europe and a humbled Russia looking to consolidate within its frontiers) when I consider myself to be fairly left-of-center on most things.

Wow, that last paragraph reads about a clear as mud, looking at it. Hum.

Bush might look like a high school debater, but he doesn’t play the part. If I were judging him from the back of the room, I’d be inclined to judge him harshly. Not that there’s anything wrong with his message; it’s that he lacks the presence or skills to convey it effectively at times. It’s easy to feel bad for the guy when he talks; he’s too disarming a speaker, trying hard to be just another guy, never knowing when or how to reach for a higher plateau.

Still. Thursday’s speech appears to be the breakthrough for him. He’s found the way up, he’s reached the plateau. He’s taken charge. Not only did he say what needed to be said, he said it in the manner in which it needed to be said.

Onward and upward!

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