¿Cuál es el legado de George W. Bush? ¿Cuál es el alcance político de la oratoria y la retórica de Barack Obama?
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Financial Times publica dos análisis complementarios. La herencia Bush es presentada como Una tragedia de errores [FT, 18 enero 09. Edward Luce, A tragedy of errors]. Sin comentarios.
Mucho menos convencional, un análisis ¿literario? ¿político? de la oratoria y la retórica de Obama. Retórica, en este caso, debe leerse en el sentido más noble: “Arte de bien decir, de dar al lenguaje escrito o hablado eficacia bastante para deleitar, persuadir o conmover”.
Al mismo tiempo, ese “talento para la retórica” no deja de plantear inmensos problemas de exégesis, cuando la retórica culmina en el mesianismo político, de imprevisible ambigüedad. Solo la marcha de la historia nos dirá si tal mesianismo precipitará, mañana, un mundo nuevo o desastres de nuevo cuño.
[ .. ] Speaking in public seems to be both a personal need and a political creed for Obama. He is not just a fine orator: he is consciously putting oratory at the centre of his political being – and in so doing seeks to embed himself in a vital American tradition.
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As lawyer, lecturer and politician, Obama’s «certain talent for rhetoric» (as he describes it himself in his second, bestselling memoir of 2006 The Audacity of Hope) has been what propelled his rise. And his speeches are filled, thrillingly, with highly formal rhetoric of the sort that would be recognisable to ancient philosophers and scholars of the medieval trivium – in which rhetoric, along with grammar and logic, formed one third of an education.
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Repetition, particularly in the form of anaphora – where a phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive lines – is another of the prime tools of political oratory and one that Obama revels in.
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But the acute listener will also hear in Obama’s oratory a deeper and older rhythm: the strophic structure and the parallelisms of psalms in the King James version. And that flows into his language through another tributary: the rhetoric of the civil rights movement born and nurtured in the Baptist churches of the American south.
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The lawyer in Obama dovetails with the preacher. The legal instruments of the US constitution are invested, for Obama, with a sort of sanctity. And the language of the Founding Fathers is so deeply plumbed into the American unconscious, he wrote in The Audacity of Hope, that when he was teaching law at Harvard, «Sometimes I imagined my work to be not so different from the work of the theology professors who taught across campus – for, as I suspect was true for those teaching scripture, I found that my students often felt they know the constitution without having really read it.»
Obama borrows one of Lincoln’s most effective rhetorical tricks too – the sudden drop in register to plain style. The folksiness of Obama’s injunction, delivered on the night of the New Hampshire primary, «to disagree without being disagreeable» is straight from the Lincoln who talked about «cheerfully» giving protection to the states in his first inaugural. Obama described in The Audacity of Hope watching in person the way that, at the podium, George Bush’s «easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty«. Obama, you could say, strives for a sort of messianic affability.
During the election campaign, various Republican outriders publicly sneered at Obama for precisely his facility as a speaker. The former Republican senator Rick Santorum called him «a person of words«, and political activist Phyllis Schlafly – amusingly identified by The New Yorker‘s James Wood as «a leathery extremist» – dubbed him «an elitist who worked with words«. This attempt to parlay George Bush’s inarticulacy into an electoral virtue played perfectly into his opponent’s hands. Formal oratory, as the fiercely well-educated president-elect knows, was the foundation stone of American democracy. And unless I miss my guess, we’re going to see quite something at his inauguration. [Financial Times, Obama’s oratory. By Sam Leith, 17 enero 2009].
Las negritas son mías.
- Bush, Obama y el futuro de nuestros hijos.
- 2008 – 2009 : Nacimiento de un Nuevo Mundo.
- ¿Podrá Obama cumplir sus promesas y contener el declive de los EE.UU..?.
- Obama, herencia catastrófica, esperanzas y temibles desafíos.
- Obama presidente: épica ilusión; temibles problemas pendientes.
- La crisis, la decadencia del imperio, Bizancio, los nacionalismos y Europa.
- EE.UU. en este Infierno.