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Presidential speeches and their many controversies

Presidential speeches and their many controversies

By Joseph Edgar… Some eagle-eyed or should I say eagled ‘eared’ person observed that the President’s latest speech was lifted from President Obama’s 2008 inaugural speech. He went ahead and fired a vitriolic essay on the matter. The Presidency responded and apologized and in its usual command and control style promised to investigate and deal decisively with the culprit.

This morning I just woke up to something on my phone showing that even the President’s inaugural speech was also tainted. Portions of it were lifted from the legendary Charles de Gaulle of France and this has led to this essay. I cannot confirm this assertion though.

Now let me state it very clearly here that there is absolutely nothing wrong in lifting or borrowing. The issue becomes complicated when the original source is not credited or acknowledged. If the President in his speech had said, ‘according to my friend President Obama’, then we will not be spending tax payers money, investigating and looking for the culprit. I hear a Deputy Director in the Presidency has ‘confessed’ and even apologized. He has been labeled an over zealous staff.

This however brings me to the issue of speech writing and reading. I have never understood why speeches had to be written for public officials. I have not really ‘investigated’ to find out why but just maybe as I am thinking it could be for the simple fact that all details must be carried in the speech and also, much more importantly, so the speaker does not speak out of turn. Donald Trump is daily showing us just what might happen in that event.

But my question has always been, assuming this was the correct reason, does that justify it? Do these two reasons justify why a public officer, who was seemingly voted into power by the public, and believes in the strong conviction of his vision and mission, allow some other person who we did not give a mandate to write his speeches, thereby conveying his message to us? Is it becuase of the prose, the grammatical nuances or what? For me, this shows a lack of depth by public officials who cannot stand up at the spur of the moment to speak about issues they superintendent over.

I once organized a seminar on Sexual Harrassment and invited a well known actress to come and speak. She was all over the media at that time with stories of her experience and I felt her contribution would further drive home the point. She accepted the invite and came for the event, where she promptly brought out a piece of paper, placed her glasses on her nose and promptly started reading. I was aghast with shock, she was raped and she cannot simply talk about it but had to resort to a piece of paper obviously written by her sister-manager to convey the morbid experience that she had just gone through?

This is what has led to this presidential goof. The need to rely on others to do simple things like this. I have never worked for a President so I do not know the processes involved in speech writing for him. But I dare say that this issue would not have come to the public if the President had insisted on writing his own speech or even spoke extempore occasionally. The President must realize that we voted for him and not his speech writer and as such we would like to genuinely hear from him most times. We would want to feel his emotions, see him empathize with us, see him feel our pain watch his face as he speaks and sense the strain he is going through carrying our load and not just watch him cold reading from a paper somebody wrote just before lunch.

Even Obama, when you see him deliver a speech, works with talking points and just uses them to guide his flow hence the ‘sweetness of his appearances’. You immediately sense that he knows exactly what he is talking about and that he really and truly is carrying the weight of the people as their President.

So for me, my plain advise is for the President to do away with his speech writers and begin to speak from his mind. Speak as Buhari and let us hear you, sir. Dump all these speeches. They come across as cold and detached, and this is exactly what we really do not need at this time


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