Seeking clearer political thinking and speaking

Back in February, I received an advanced copy of Jeffrey Feldman’s book, Framing the Debate: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (And Win Elections). I started reading it and really enjoyed it. I wanted to find the best time to sit down and write up my review.

In March, I wrote a blog post about how the Edwards family is dealing with Elizabeth’s cancer. The blog post went up a few hours before the news conference where they announced that Sen. Edwards was staying in the race, despite the return of Elizabeth’s cancer. I started off by talking about Feldman’s book.

It is a great book that I hope anyone interested in politics spends some time reading.

We would do well to spend more time reading speeches of former leaders. The first speech analyzed is George Washington’s first inaugural address. He spoke about being called by “the voice of my country”. Feldman talks about the “humble servant” frame, of great leaders responding to a call by the country and a recognition that they it takes much more than just a great leader to solve our country’s problems, it takes the strength of the American people.

I never did get the time to write the review I wanted. Then today, I read Feldman’s diary on DailyKos. It seems that Eve Fairbanks did not like Feldman’s book and said so in The New York Times Book Review.

It isn’t too surprising. Fairbanks writes for the New Republic and rarely has anything nice to say about progressives. (See her comments about Gov. Dean and the use of social media in the Examiner in February as an example.)

Not being a fan of the old guard political pundit class, I wrote the following letter to the New York Times Book Review:

Eve Fairbanks review of Jeffrey Feldman’s new book “Framing the Debate”, at first glance, seem to serve very different purposes from that of the book. Yet following Dr. Feldman’s suggestion that we should look more closely at the underlying themes of great speeches, I have found that Dr. Feldman’s writing is the flip side of Ms. Fairbanks writing.

Dr. Feldman has provided great speeches in American history. He talks about the underlying themes and how, by focusing on them, we can help return our country to the greatness we saw in our elected leaders. Ms. Fairbanks provides us more of the same old punditry that has so damaged our country in recent years. By reading both of them, I am renewing my commitment to seek higher quality writing. That includes searching out speeches like those that Dr. Feldman highlights and avoiding the sort of writing that Ms. Fairbanks illustrates.

I also went out and added a quick review at Amazon

Jeffrey Feldman's book Framing the Debate is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to read great speeches in American history and think about the themes that have helped make our country great.

Whether you simply long for the great speeches in America's past, or long for eloquent leaders to move our country forward and are willing to roll up your sleeves and help candidates become better speakers and clearer thinkers, this is a book you must read.

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