Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bush: "Do we stand back and hope or do we stand up and help?”

It's a pretty good line.

Last night, an autocue was used in the Indian Parliament for the first time in its history. President Obama spoke for just 20 minutes with the help of “two textbook-sized panes of glass” that were installed by a technical team brought in – at some expense – from the US. “We thought Obama was a trained orator and skilled in the art of mass address,” complained one Indian official to the Hindustan Times.

It’s no wonder, then, that Bush-sympathisers long for a return to “Dubyaspeak” and the plain rhetoric of his era. Even my colleague Mary Riddell, hardly a fan, finds the Texan language “attractive”.

As it happens, an example of this jumped out at me when I read today’s interview in the Times (£). Speaking to James Harding, the former president raised his voice, as if he was addressing a room full of people:

“If you believe that freedom is universal, then you shouldn’t be surprised when people take courageous measures to live in a free society. Then the fundamental question is: what is the role of free nations? Do we stand back and hope or do we stand up and help?”

And there you have it – a clever and delicate put-down from George W. Bush. After that last sentence, you won’t be able to look at the Obama Cairo speech the same way again. It’s far too easy to misunderestimate this man.

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