...The historic, high-stakes Obama speech is practically a fortnightly experience. Given the frequency, they can't all be interesting. But in their tendency toward the crashingly banal, they all run together into the same mind-numbing oration.
In Oslo, his Nobel speech contained an admirable vein of realism. But he still dazzled with the obvious — war has been endemic to human history. He awed with the unconsciously egomaniacal — "I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war." (Did he really think that disclaimer necessary?) He sparkled with borderline nonsensical faux profundity — "we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected."
In his West Point speech, unveiling one of the most important decisions of his presidency, Obama managed to talk for 33 minutes without either truly setting expectations for the difficult year ahead in Afghanistan or explaining why his policy would work. Why bother when he had the opportunity to regale the country with his favorite cliches?
Obama seems to believe he's the first person to stumble on the concept of the "interconnected world." He often speaks in a professorial manner that treats his listeners as if they are all eager to be lectured in Obama 101, managing to sound thoughtful without any true depth or wisdom. Abraham Lincoln once said, "It is very common in this country to find great facility of expression and less common to find great lucidity of thought." Obama confirms the insight.
He can't help studding his speech with self-references, as if he were still fascinating and new. Obama is not nearly as dull as, say, Herman Van Rompuy, the European Union's new president. But he is inflicted on us much more routinely and with much greater intensity. On net, that might make Barack Obama one of the most boring people in the world.
I think Peggy Lee said--or rather, sang--it best: Is That All There Is?