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Tuesday, October 08, 2002
One of the most remarkable phenomena in American politics is the effect of television. A majority of the people who saw the televised presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960 thought Kennedy won the debate. But a majority of the people who listened to the very same debate on the radio thought Nixon won. It seems that a recent shave, a little pancake and the ability to control ones sweat glands can have a major, if subliminal, impact. Since there is no particular reason to believe that people from other nations are not subject to the same "TV effect", that's something I try to bear in mind at all times when thinking about how major addresses are viewed by others around the world. The fact that someone would be seeing the speech, as opposed to reading it can and will affect his or her reaction to it.

The reason for the foregoing bloviation is that I had to work late last night (yeah, I do work), so I missed Bush's speech. I read it this morning, here. I thought it was a good speech. I wonder how good the delivery was, and how that delivery played on the air. I am sure that the political elite around the world could get a tape of the speech if they wanted to. I could, too, probably, but I didn't, and I won't. No time. I wonder how many foreign leaders did. The Guardian appears not to have waited for the speech to be made before it published a reaction to it, so we know that they didn't get video. I am sure that, outside the US, the average Joe would, at best, see a clip of ten or fifteen seconds on the nightly news. On the other hand, the text is widely available for anyone who is interested enough to spend three seconds on Google.

As I said, I thought it was a good speech. One word in particular literally jumped out at me as if it was in boldface type. It's the word "unified" in the sentence "If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors." If anyone thought that there was any chance that Turkey would sit this one out, that word, all by itself, puts that fear (in some cases, that hope) to rest.

Being a lawyer and making my living by the pen, so to speak, of course there are things I would have changed or added. For example, where Bush said "I'm not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein", I would have said "I'm reluctant to stake my life on trusting Saddam Hussein, and I completely unwilling to bet your lives."

But that's probably why I labor in obscurity (sigh) instead of writing speeches for Presidents.
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