Barack Obama’s inner poet

From The Guardian:

Obama460x276_2 Feverishly streaming clips of Obama over the past weeks, I’ve been struck by the freshness of his conversational style. In one interview on The Daily Show he explained how the electorate wanted to “look under the hood and kick the tyres” before they voted for him, implying solid construction while also invoking the American automotive tradition. If we unpack it a little further, there are other metaphors nestled within: he’s “roadworthy” and already has “a few miles on the clock”. In short, he has the necessary experience.

When faced with the thorny issue of whether Hillary’s experience as first lady had any bearing on her potential as a presidential candidate, Obama conceded that she had done “some heavy lifting on issues” during Bill Clinton’s time in office. The metaphor was damning and decisive, casting Hillary as a little oafish and clumsy, fit only for drudge work.

Kennedy knew the importance of words when he chose Robert Frost to speak at his inauguration. As he said in a speech in 1963 after the poet’s death: “When power corrupts, poetry cleanses … When power leads man towards his arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations.” But as Michael Donaghy pointed out, Kennedy wasn’t beyond co-opting a little of this for himself: the rhetorical techniques deployed in his inauguration speech mirrored those of the Robert Frost’s poem The Gift Outright.

More here.