02/20/08 — Speechmaking: Pretty words and lofty phrases do not a good president make

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Speechmaking: Pretty words and lofty phrases do not a good president make

There are plenty of reasons to look askance at Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.

From questionable family financial dealings to seemingly poll-adjusted opinions, this candidacy has more red flags than a parade.

And then there is the prospect of another four years of Bill Clinton — only this time by proxy.

But there is one point she and her campaign are making that is something that people in both parties should think about as they prepare to cast their votes.

Fancy speeches — complete with lines lifted from a best friend’s address — do not guarantee the experience and know-how to make a great president.

In that job, real experience really does matter. And, so, too, do real plans on how to address the issues you speak so eloquently about.

Perhaps Barack Obama will unveil a few more concrete proposals as the November election draws near or after he has secured the Democratic nomination.

But in any case, once he has his party’s blessing, it will be time for the gloves to come off — again.

The fact that he chose to use someone else’s words in one of his speeches is not in itself a reason not to cast your vote in the Obama column.

But it should make you wonder.

When you use someone else’s catchy phrase, you are not speaking from the heart, you are stumping for a soundbite. Otherwise, why would you use a phrase crafted by someone else? If you had deep feelings about an issue or your own compass, you would have your own words and wouldn’t need to appropriate someone else’s.

And that is what voters have to demand if Obama earns the nod of the Democratic faithful — substance.

Saying you will remove troops from Iraq during your first year in office is not enough. We need to hear how you will accomplish that feat — and what your plan is to protect Iraq from returning to chaos and to safeguard American interests overseas.

We want to hear a plan on how you will keep America safe while addressing some of the domestic concerns many families are worried about. We don’t just want to hear your call to arms.

And finally, stop using “change” merely as a buzzword.

It won’t be enough come November.

There is still a little more drama to come in the Clinton-Obama race. But when it is over, remember, not all campaign rhetoric should be ignored.

Published in Editorials on February 20, 2008 12:12 PM