‘Top Line’ Book Corner: ‘Power in Words’ and the Speechmaking of Barack Obama

By Josh

Oct 22, 2010 2:43pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: How is it that a president who won office in large part due to his rhetorical prowess now faces midterm losses that can plausibly be blamed on failures of communication? It’s a question that Democrats – up to and including those in the White House are only beginning to grapple with. And it’s a question that a new book, “Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama's Speeches, from the State House to the White House,” goes a long way toward answering – at least implicitly. “What’s interesting is just how good he was at messaging during the campaign,” Josh Gottheimer, one of the book’s co-authors, told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today. “It’s tough, once people start getting down on you, it sort of takes over as the meme, and it’s hard to break it,” he added. “It’s tough giving presidential speeches, and I think he’s actually done a very good job. It’s just there’s a lot of noise out there.” Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, said Obama suffers in part from his ability to inspire listeners with his words. “You had to be taken by him as a campaign orator. It’s sort of what grabbed you,” he said. “It’s very hard to live up to that. Plus, there’s the whole policy side, which you can’t control with a speech. … It almost overshadows – it sets the bar so high for him. And I think people just have to be realistic. You’re not going to turn around the economy overnight.” Watch the full interview with Josh Gottheimer HERE. Find out more about the book, by Gottheimer and Mary Frances Berry, HERE.

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