Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama: A Real-Life Version of Saruman?

Lately I have been picking up on a common theme in the blogosphere. Roger L . Simon for one has posed a pop-quiz question; “Can anyone think of anything memorable Obama said in one of his speeches other than hope, change, etc.?” I’ve seen a few other mentions of people who have heard his speeches being unable to remember any particular quotes from them but do remember that they thought they liked them at the time. As James Taranto quipped in the lead paragraph of today’s Best of the Web Today at the Wall Street Journal, “President Obama is to deliver his first official State of the Union Address tonight, though he has previously given two speeches to joint sessions of Congress, the one nobody remembers and the one during which a rude man shouted, "You lie!" .“ There have been a few other examples of others making similar observations in the last week or so, just none that I can find right now. Like Obama’s words, they soon fade from memory.

I thought all this seemed familiar to me, listening to him speak and watching how people reacted to his voice. It took a while but then I remembered why. Obama has the same ability as Saruman, the supposedly good wizard gone very, very bad in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy to lull the weak-minded with his voice. In the second book, The Two Towers, we find this description of Saruman’s voice on page 183:

…..Suddenly, another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke, they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. For some the spell only lasted while the voice spoke to them, and when it spoke to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler’s trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and its commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it.

Personally, I have never been able to stand listening to President Obama at all. His voice grates on me and I find myself wanting to yell at the TV, which annoys the dog so I refrain, but the Saruman description is the first thing I think about whenever I do hear it. In the end, Saruman’s voice lost its ability to beguile when Gandalf provoked him into losing his temper, something else Obama seems to be having trouble controlling lately, thereby exposing his true nature. The spell was broken forever.

Obama’s sole talent as an orator is the ability to read a teleprompter. It is his crutch and when his crutch is taken away, he is every bit as inarticulate as George W. Bush was um, ah, um, derided for being. When he does have the teleprompter, it looks like he’s watching a tennis match with his head swiveling back and forth between screens. It’s very distracting after a while.

I can’t decide whether or not to watch the STFU SOTU (h/t Chris Muir) Address tonight. I will probably follow Stephen Green drunk-blogging it (which I presume he’ll be doing Update: Yup, he is) and read the transcript later. At least I’ll get some entertainment value out of it first.

(update: discovered a link I thought I'd pasted in  missing: "It is his crutch....")
(update to update: the drunkblog transcript is here.)
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Michael Morrison said...

What a great post this is, and not just because you quote the superlative "Day by Day" cartoon by the talented Chris Muir.
That Pres. Obama's alleged oratory is so un-memorable is a fact that needs to be stressed, repeatedly.
Congratulations on an excellent blog. I'm glad I found it.

Brother J said...

Thank you, Michael for the kind words. I'm not the first to make the Obama/Saruman connection actually. Googling around subsequent to posting turned up a few references dating back a couple of years.

Your point about stressing the un-memorability of the President's speeches is what I intended to draw attention to. People get caught up in the cadences and forget to listen to, or think about, what he is actually saying, which is essentially nothing.