The normal barrage of punditry that comes after significant speeches of this nature was ditched last night so that coverage of the plane crash into the Hudson River and Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder's confirmation hearing could be covered. How interesting is it that a plane crash would lead to news coverage of Bush's farewell being cut off?
Scott McClellan appropriately said on Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann minutes after the speech, there are two problems with his final speech: one, Bush lost the public trust long, long ago and so the public is no longer buying what he’s selling and two, Bush lost the trust because of the way he went about selling policies to the American people.
Having taken a college course on public speaking, I can confidently say that I know the many elements of a persuasive speech and I know how to give a persuasive speech quite well. And, Bush quite frankly hasn’t a clue how to deliver a persuasive speech.
The intention of this farewell address was to persuade the American people that he had served this nation well as president. If we agree this is the intention, then perhaps we can agree that he failed.
Every word of his address was uttered with the utmost disregard for the final Gallop poll which puts his approval rating at 34%.
Let’s say we assume that 100% of Americans tuned in to this speech (or will tune in later by watching it on the Internet). Only about a third of those people will hear what Bush had to say and think, “Yes, he’s right. He did do a good job.”
Bush, as Scott McClellan stated on Countdown, missed an opportunity. But, I and other Americans are probably not surprised. Bush has done everything he can to make it seem like he has made very few mistakes.
It’s possibly true that he made no mistakes. For those who controlled his political future like those behind his election and re-election, he served them well. But for the American people, he spent his two terms denying the prevailing wisdom of the nation.