Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Being and playing president

POTUS is an elected monarch. In the previous posts the LD and I examined mostly the reigning and the governing sides of his office. Or, better, just to these two sides the LD answered me, also pointing out that they can never be totally separated, as he noticed by recalling the example of a president whom we love, Theodor Roosevelt, who knew how to reign by governing and to govern by reigning.

Correct. But we need to take into consideration a third side, pertaining to the fact that he is an elected monarch: i.e. campaigning.

Obama, during the 2008 campaign, played at being presidential, which he failed to be while in office. How about the Tucson speech? Was that a playing president too?

There isn't a one way answer: because he is the president.

Therefore, by delivering a speech addressed to everybody, all molded in a pacifying mode, he was presidential, up to his role.

However, he also needs to be reelected. Returning to the style of his old candidate speeches is clearly aimed then at recovering consensus for election. And it couldn't be otherwise.

We live in a democracy, after all, where it is elected he who knows how to touch the right chords in the public audience: is rhetorically effective. But here we need to make distinctions. If rhetoric is unavoidable, it doesn't mean that we can't discern whether one is in his whole person consonant to what he says, or this appears dissonant with respect to what he otherwise shows to be.

The second I think is the case with Obama. His speech was indeed presidential, and still he was playing president.

I tend to agree with the comment to my post: that speech doesn't show a change of heart.

I don't applaud at Sen. McCain's applauding at the Tucson speech. To my view, as I often repeated in this blog, the cleavage that divides Americans is deeper than he seems to suggest. Sweet pacifying words avail to nothing if they don't go with some account of what divides, and possibly with a hint of what can heal the division. Or better, they amount in the end to no more than an electoral devise.


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