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7 Reasons Why Obama's Speeches Are So Powerful

The president is using his enormous skills as a communicator to express a moral framework.

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Such national, day-by-day media competition is necessary. Democrats need to build it. Democratic think tanks are strong on policy and programs, but weak on values and vision. Without the moral arguments based on the Obama values and vision, the policymakers most likely will be unable to regularly address both independent voters and the Limbaugh-Fox News audiences in conservative Republican strongholds.

The president and his administration cannot build such a communication system, nor can the Democrats in Congress. The Democratic National Committee does not have the resources. It will be up to supporters of the Obama values, not just supporters on the issues, to put such a system in place.

Despite all the organizing strength of Obama supporters, no such organizing effort is going on. If none is put together, the movement conservatives will face few challenges of fundamental values in their home constituencies and will be able to go on stonewalling with impunity. That will make the president's vision that much harder to carry out.


The Obama Code is based on seven deep, insightful and subtle intellectual moves. What Obama has been attempting in his speeches is a return to the original frames of the framers, reconstituting what it means to be an American, to be patriotic, to be a citizen and to share in both the sacrifices and the glories of our country.

In seeking "bipartisan" support, he is looking beyond political affiliations to those who share those values on particular issues. In his economic plan, he is attempting to realign our economy with the moral missions of government: protection and empowerment for all.

The president hasn't fooled the radical ideological conservatives in Congress. They know progressive values when they see them -- and they see them in their own colleagues and constituents too often for comfort.

The radical conservatives are aware that this economic crisis threatens not only their political support, but the very underpinnings of conservative ideology itself. Nonetheless, their brains have not been changed by facts. Movement conservatives are not fading away. They think their conservative values are the real American values. They still have their message machine, and they are going to make the most of it.

The ratings for Fox News and Limbaugh are rising. Without a countervailing communications system on the Democratic side, they can create a lot of trouble, not just for the president, not just for the nation, but on a global scale, for the environmental and economic future of the world.

George Lakoff is the author of Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (Chelsea Green). He is professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley and a senior fellow of the Rockridge Institute.

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