by D. Cupples | Most people already assume that political speeches are largely scripted and staged, but it's interesting to see concrete evidence of just how scripted and staged they are.
Yesterday, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama (Richardson dropped out of the presidential race in January). Below is a the text of Richardson's speech, including a stage direction:
"I know Senator Obama well.
"I first got to know him when I chaired the last Democratic National Convention, where he gave that wonderful keynote address.
"And then, last year, as we campaigned against each other for the Presidency, I came to fully appreciate his steadfast patriotism and remarkable talents.
"I also felt a kinship with him because we both had one foreign-born parent and we both lived abroad as children.
"In part because of these experiences, Barack and I share a deep sense of our nation’s special responsibilities in the world.
"[Turn toward Obama and smile]
"Barack Obama, you are an extraordinary leader who has shown courage, sound judgment and wisdom throughout your career.
"You understand the security challenges of the 21st century, and you will be an outstanding Commander in Chief."
I haven't watched Gov. Richardson's speech, and I'm not sure if he managed to "turn toward" Obama on cue, but I did read that Richardson didn't smile at the right point.
Perhaps that's because he was endorsing the opponent of the woman whose husband twice appointed Richardson to high government posts. Maybe it was because Richardson had just gone against a plurality of voters who had voted in New Mexico's caucus. Hillary won that one (49% - 48%. Richardson got only 1%.
Then again, Hillary won by a small margin: she got 73,105 votes to Obama's 71,396 (Richardson got 1,305).
And Maybe Richardson figured that caucuses don't really reflect most voters' moods, because far fewer people vote in caucuses than in primaries. I agree with that, incidentally, but I'm not an elected official who has to answer to a constituency.
I'd like to know who wrote the speech. Gov. Richardson is known for being a very adept diplomat. Surely, he could figure out on his own when to look at his endorsee and when to smile.
If Richardson wrote the speech, was he afraid he might forget at which points to make which gestures? I hope not, especially if he's lobbying to become vice president (if Obama wins the nomination).
Thanks to the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder for posting the excerpt from the speech.
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