Can Obama Talk Smart to Dumbed-Down America?

Can Barack raise level of discourse without losing his audience?
By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2008 10:33 AM CDT
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks at the United States Conference of Mayors in Miami Saturday, June 21, 2008.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama’s trip to the DNC podium is expected to be the "rhetorical blockbuster of the summer," writes Sam Anderson in New York.  But is the senator up to using his oratorical sophistication to expand his popularity among Americans hooked on a junk-food diet of low-brow stump speeches? Can a "Clinton-style natural who flaunts the artifice of his speeches and refuses to strategically hide his intelligence" score with an audience ambivalent about exactly those qualities?"

Obama is an eye of eloquence in the storm of American campaigning usually geared to the comprehension—and attention span—of a typical eighth grader. He can raise the level of discourse—but can't single-handedly change American anti-intellectualism or our impatience with long talks, writes Anderson. Nothing will test the mettle of his rhetorical gifts more than the DNC, where he “has to prove he’s not a talker by talking better than he ever has before.” (Read more Barack Obama stories.)