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562Bush Video

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  • Gregory
    Feb 7, 2005

      As these videos may demonstrate, George Bush is an interesting case
      when it comes to the rhetorical presidency. Though he could give a
      pretty good speech when he had to, he did not place much stock in the
      rhetorical dimensions of the office, unlike, say, Gerald Ford who was
      never a highly effective speaker but who accepted the notion that the
      chief executive has a rhetorical function. Though giving a farewell
      address seems, perhaps, more appropriate when you've served two terms
      (Reagan gave one and I suspect Bill Clinton will too), I think it
      nonetheless significant that Bush declined to give one. Even Jimmy
      Carter took advantage of the opportunity.

      The clips begin with Bush's 1988 acceptance speech, the one in which
      he made his famous "Read my lips, no new taxes" pledge. Bush needed
      to give a good speech here and, with the help of speechwriter Peggy
      Noonan, he did. Uncomfortable calling attention to himself, you'll
      note how nonetheless he manages to identify significant aspects of
      his biography without appearing to brag.

      Next is a clip from one of the 1988 debates in which, you'll see,
      Bush more than holds his own. Even here, however, he seems a bit
      uncomfortable with the zinger, finding it necessary to underscore
      that it was a one liner he had brought with him.

      Next is the Noonan authored inaugural address. (That does look like
      the Beaver in the background, doesn't it?) Following that is a clip
      from the televised address in defense of Saudi Arabia.

      The next clip is the famous "wrist watch gazing" episode in the 1992
      debates. You'll note how disinterested in the affair Bush appears to
      be, especially in contrast to Clinton. Rightly or wrongly, this
      little nonverbal gesture spoke volumes to voters. (Sorry for tiny
      video glitch in this portion.)

      Finally there is an excerpt from Bush's 1992 address to the Economic
      Club of Detroit, a thoughtful speech which allowed voters to get a
      glimpse of Bush's "vision." His supporters wish he had given more
      speeches like this and that they had received more attention.