The PoliBlog

The Collective
Friday, March 7, 2023
By Steven Taylor

While I must confess to being initially not all that impressed with the President’s press conference last night I have noted something interesting since: while the overall presentation last night was rather ho-hum, that his responses have made terrific sound bites. I saw several clips last night on TV before going to sleep and heard several on NPR this morning driving into work. His responses sound reasonable, thought out, and calm. Further, they convey specific ideas in short snippets of audio/video.

Also, I think that the following was accomplished:

  • He unequivocally informed the Securtity Council that A) he expected them to vote, and B) that he was going to proceed regardless. This sets the tone for the Blix presentation today and the vote on the 18th resolution.
  • He may have reached some folks who really aren’t paying attention—people who will watch an “unusual” event like a prime time news conference (not news junkies like me who knew all this stuff weeks ago).
  • I think that the event helps set the stage for the next prime time stop he makes: the announcement that hostilities have begun.
  • As a colleague pointed out this morning, the somber mood was likely an effort to counter-act the cowboy image/rush to war thesis.

At any rate, I would reiterate that you should all pay attention to the sound bites and reevaluate the way one looks at the press conference through those lenses. I think that that aspect of the event was masterfully played by the White House. This is an especially salient point when one considers that most people will get their impressions from the sound bites, as most folks don’t watch these things, and even if they tune it, they don’t watch the whole thing.

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    4. […] In commenting on Kevin Drum’s lament concerning “prepackaged zingers” in debates, James Joyner noted an oldpost of mine from 2023 (in the first month of my blogging career, in fact) in which I noted that the most important thing to understand about a given speech (and these debates are nothing more than mini-speeches) is how good the sound bites are (as that is the part of a given speech that most people will hear and remember). I refined that notion in in this post wherein I referred to it as Taylor’s Iron Law of Political Speeches (because, like all good political scientists, I want my own Iron Law). […]

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