Tuesday, July 27, 2004

As a Preacher I miss Clinton

First a disclaimer...

I never voted for Bill Clinton. In fact, I voted for the other guy both times. Also, I am very proud of my party affiliation. I am a died-in-the-wool Independent. I registered as a Democrat at 18, because in North Florida that is what you did.

When I moved to a state with an open primary (which is a wonderful thing-Florida take a lesson), I registered as an Independent. I have now been an official Independent for over 10 years in Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts and Florida (which makes it very hard to not join one of the 2 corrupt parties).

I mention this because I watched the Democratic Convention last night (after watching my beloved Cardinals beat the Reds in the 11th) and realized how much I miss having a man with command of the English language and an ability to connect with people as a President. I realized how comforting it is to have an effective communicator sharing vision. It reminded me, as a preacher, why churches put so much emphasis on "good preaching." Say what you will about Bill Clinton, but he was a good preacher.

George W. Bush is not. Neither is Al Gore. Ditto for John Kerry. Dick Cheney is barely okay. Of course, John Edwards is a wonderful speaker. Reagan, who as an actor understood effective communication was. Bush Senior, in retrospect, was not bad (especially when compared to his barely coherent son). John McCain is a great communicator. Dukakis bad. Sharpton amazing.

I have wondered what makes some of our leaders good at this and some so bad. As a preacher, I have watched and thought, "come on, how hard is it." Evidently, for some, terribly. Did they skip speech class?

I then realized that Clinton, Edwards and Reagan grew up in middle-class or lower middle-class settings. They had to learn to effectively communicate to move up. Bush, Kerry and Gore learned to debate properly but did not learn to communicate. They did not learn to memorize speeches and make them their own. They did not learn to connect with audiences. Is it the difference between growing up in upper crust churches and those that are more "earthy?" Again, I do not know.

There is no pattern that works 100% of the time. Also, Kennedy, who I was watching from the 1960 Democratic Convention on C-Span was rich, privileged, grew up in a church tradition without strong preaching, didn't memorize speeches, yet was one of the best communicators America has ever seen.

I know this is a random post, but I have been struggling with this since the 2000 election and having to watch two ineffective communicators (the most complimentary thing I can say) vie to have us lead the country. I have been struggling watching our president mangle the English language (no I do not find it endearing when a CT-born Yale educated man leading the free world cannot speak properly) for 4 years (I have been impressed once, at Ground Zero with the rescue workers- it actually sounded emotionally connected-almost Clintonesque). I just want to watch the most powerful man in the world speak as well as some of the more average preachers I have come across. Is it too much to ask?

1 comment:

james said...

Independants unite!