Historian Timothy Meagher thinks Obama too smart for the American people

Or at least, too articulate for us jamokes. Via HNN:

Democrats are handicapped by their split electorate, explains Timothy Meagher, a fourth generation Irish-American and professor of history at Catholic University. Republicans tend to be white and working or middle class, while Democrats encompass the poor, ethnic minorities and Americans with university degrees.

"The language that appeals to educated Democrats is more formal, more academic," says Meagher. "College professors love Obama, because his language is beautifully crafted. But other groups can find it alienating."

Race further complicates Obama's linguistic choices. In his efforts to be a "regular guy", the president calls people "folks" and drops his 'g's. "If he indulges too much in colloquial English, it sounds like black argot," says Meagher.

"It's easier for white politicians to descend into folksiness." Obama's intelligence and Ivy League education can be a political weakness that make him appear distant and cold, Meagher explains. "Dropping his 'g's can seem hip and cool to blacks and young whites, but older whites, and especially middle-class whites, may hear language that conjures up images of poor blacks. Do white Americans see someone like them, or someone who crosses a boundary? He's boxed in by American stereotypes." Vice-president Joe Biden is in a sense the Democrats' secret linguistic weapon. From a northeastern, working-class, Irish Catholic family, Biden has the common touch, including the occasional swear word....

Obama's recent major addresses - Afghanistan, the budget, health care - have fallen flat. Technically, they are still very well crafted. But they have all the inspiration of a brick layer performing his rote tasks. Indeed, crafting a speech can be seen as laying bricks - constructing images, laying out themes, logically piling ideas one on top of another with segues and riffs that tie everything into a seamless whole.

But I doubt even Moses could make a speech about the deficit and the budget inspirational. Beyond that, Meagher has it all wrong. The holi poli are just as impressed with Obama's "intelligence and Ivy League education," as the elites. It's a selling point that appeals to whites who want to justify their vote for Obama. And I have never heard or read any "middle class whites" who think that Obama's speaking style "conjures up images of poor blacks." That's plain nonsense. In fact, Obama dropping "g's" and using folksy language connects him to other presidents - including his predecessor - in a way that all Americans recognize, albeit with varying degrees of appreciation.

The one who is "boxed in by American stereotypes" is obviously Meagher. He can't get around his inability to see people as individuals, forcing us into the nice, neat little packages of race and class that pass for scholarly analysis in academic circles. Straying beyond that kind of narrow, shallow, unrealistic scholarship will not win you friends in the closed minded academy from which academic blessings flow.

Oh - and anyone who believes Biden is the "Democrats' secret linguistic weapon" needs to take a long vacation - or a permament leave of absence. Silliness does not become those who lay claim to being serious scholars about anything - especially contemporary American politics.



Or at least, too articulate for us jamokes. Via HNN:

Democrats are handicapped by their split electorate, explains Timothy Meagher, a fourth generation Irish-American and professor of history at Catholic University. Republicans tend to be white and working or middle class, while Democrats encompass the poor, ethnic minorities and Americans with university degrees.

"The language that appeals to educated Democrats is more formal, more academic," says Meagher. "College professors love Obama, because his language is beautifully crafted. But other groups can find it alienating."

Race further complicates Obama's linguistic choices. In his efforts to be a "regular guy", the president calls people "folks" and drops his 'g's. "If he indulges too much in colloquial English, it sounds like black argot," says Meagher.

"It's easier for white politicians to descend into folksiness." Obama's intelligence and Ivy League education can be a political weakness that make him appear distant and cold, Meagher explains. "Dropping his 'g's can seem hip and cool to blacks and young whites, but older whites, and especially middle-class whites, may hear language that conjures up images of poor blacks. Do white Americans see someone like them, or someone who crosses a boundary? He's boxed in by American stereotypes." Vice-president Joe Biden is in a sense the Democrats' secret linguistic weapon. From a northeastern, working-class, Irish Catholic family, Biden has the common touch, including the occasional swear word....

Obama's recent major addresses - Afghanistan, the budget, health care - have fallen flat. Technically, they are still very well crafted. But they have all the inspiration of a brick layer performing his rote tasks. Indeed, crafting a speech can be seen as laying bricks - constructing images, laying out themes, logically piling ideas one on top of another with segues and riffs that tie everything into a seamless whole.

But I doubt even Moses could make a speech about the deficit and the budget inspirational. Beyond that, Meagher has it all wrong. The holi poli are just as impressed with Obama's "intelligence and Ivy League education," as the elites. It's a selling point that appeals to whites who want to justify their vote for Obama. And I have never heard or read any "middle class whites" who think that Obama's speaking style "conjures up images of poor blacks." That's plain nonsense. In fact, Obama dropping "g's" and using folksy language connects him to other presidents - including his predecessor - in a way that all Americans recognize, albeit with varying degrees of appreciation.

The one who is "boxed in by American stereotypes" is obviously Meagher. He can't get around his inability to see people as individuals, forcing us into the nice, neat little packages of race and class that pass for scholarly analysis in academic circles. Straying beyond that kind of narrow, shallow, unrealistic scholarship will not win you friends in the closed minded academy from which academic blessings flow.

Oh - and anyone who believes Biden is the "Democrats' secret linguistic weapon" needs to take a long vacation - or a permament leave of absence. Silliness does not become those who lay claim to being serious scholars about anything - especially contemporary American politics.



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