Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Inside and Outside the Hall

Approaching the Pepsi Center, I am struck at the enormity of the media industry connected to the event. Large tents, some of them two stories, fill the parking lot, along with vans, satellite dishes, antennas and miles and miles of power lines and data cables. Half of the arena, in the hall and in the labyrinth below, is devoted to the media. There must be several reporters, editors, pundits, photographers, techs and support staff for every delegate, all devoted to the task of describing the convention to the world.
I find myself wondering how different this all looks at home compared to the view from the convention floor, and how speeches come across inside and outside the hall. Many speakers tend to slip into arena orator mode, raising the inflection of their phrases and slowing down their rhythms to match the echo of the hall. “Today…ay…ay…I consider myself…elf…elf…the luckiest man…an…an…”
Some orators do that naturally. (Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair sounded like he did it at the breakfast table.) Ted Kennedy mastered the art long ago. Barack Obama is unusually gifted in front of the large gatherings that flock to see him.
But the best speechmakers somehow manage to sound conversational even in a basketball arena. Michelle Obama did it last night. Bill Clinton is a master of the art, as he showed at the convention four years ago. Ed Rendell, who sits down with a regular crew of sportscasters every Sunday night after Eagles games, has the conversational style; he’s the same guy in person as he is before the camera.
Joe Biden combines both styles. He will roar, work the crowd, repeat phrases for emphasis, and then at a crucial point he will lower his voice to talk about what’s at stake. He will, in some mysterious way, be delivering a speech and conducting a conversation at the same time. How does he do it? Like Rendell, he is the same guy in front of a large room as he is in a living room, except he is much more intense. It will be interesting to see how he comes across in the hall and on television when many people will see him speak for the first time.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The convention is a freak show - with the killer drunk as a keynote - and two libtards making Hillary Clinton look good. I'm not saying McCain is anything - he's a loser - but my God how low this country sank.

5:50 AM, August 27, 2008  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

I could not disagree more. I have been impressed with the level of the speeches, which have ranged from run of the mill to outstanding.

I have been particularly encouraged with the discussion on renewable energy, which has gone beyond the usual pat phrases to understanding the enormity of the problems--and the opportunities.

8:34 AM, August 27, 2008  

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