The candidates need to listen to their inner redneck
By Brooks Boliek
The problem with Al Gore's speechmaking isn't that he's stiff, it's his cadence. It's off by a half a beat. His speeches remind me of a Canadian blues band I once heard. Technically, the band members were great musicians, but they were a half a beat off. It was as if the blues had traveled all the way up the Mississippi to Chicago where they were altered but retained their rhythm.
Gore's speeches are the same way. When read, they're technically excellent, but when he delivers them, they're a bit off. The crowd wants to shout: "Amen, Al," but he steps on them. Or, when he gives them the opening, they're not ready.
He may have studied religion in college, but he didn't spend enough time in the hills with the foot-washing Baptists, or in the ghettos with the American Methodist Episcopals. Gore needs to get in touch with his inner redneck-or his black gospel soul-before it's too late.
Not that George W.'s are that much better. Yeah, he's got that "aw, shucks" stuff down pat, but his speeches seem like cotton candy: all froth and no meat. He wants you to believe he's in touch with his inner redneck or his black gospel soul but, deep down, you know its all faux peckerwood, like the fake wood paneling General Motors pasted on the side of a 1971 Buick Estate Wagon.
Both men have Southern roots, and both need lessons from the great Southern speech-makers. They need to listen in on ol' LBJ or MLK or even Fritz Hollings. Now those are some men who are, or were, in touch with their inner redneck or black gospel souls.
Since Al and W have been spending a lot of their time in hotel rooms, they don't need to go that far. They can just turn on the television and dial around until they find some of the old Warner Bros. cartoons and watch Foghorn Leghorn.
Now there's a character who knows his inner self. He's got a bit of the black and the white preacher in him. He's got a great cadence, and he gets results. Albeit, he sometimes is the victim of unintended consequences. Still, he doesn't let a little frying pan in the face stop him. He's a model of perseverance and bluster. Just what you need at the end of a a long, tough campaign.
Can't you just hear him advising the candidates: "Boys! I sah boys! You got to, I sah, ya got to sound pres-eye-dential-like, boys. Or no one's gonna listen to yah."
Copyright © The Southerner 2000.