Per a study by the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics,
Obama’s SOTU addresses have the lowest average Flesch-Kincaid score of any modern president; Obama owns three of the six lowest-scoring addresses since FDR
For the third consecutive State of the Union Address, Barack Obama spoke in clear, plain terms.
And for the third straight Address, the President’s speech was written at an eighth-grade level.
Smart Politics delves further:
Dragging down Obama’s Flesch-Kincaid score are the series of short sentences written – perhaps for dramatic effect – on a number of policy issues.
On the state of the American auto industry:
“We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.”
On the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure:
“So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy.”
On the importance of passing a payroll tax break extension:
“There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.”
Barack Obama doesn’t have his mojo back. Last night’s State of the Union was so pedestrian that even its most provocative sections — proposing new taxes and new witch hunts — had little rhetorical power or oomph.
The candidate who suggested his victory in the Texas primary would be remembered as the moment at which the waters of the ocean would literally begin to recede has entirely lost his capacity to inspire — or to frighten his rivals — by his oratorical gifts alone.
Without that force, and without much of a record to run on, he instead turned the classic State of the Union laundry list into his own personal Amazon.com gift registry.
Others (cough) noticed the rhetorical vacancy years ago, before the lost mojo:
… it’s no wonder Barack Obama is winning the Democrat nomination: he combines the hardcore statist ambitions of Hillary Clinton with the color-by-numbers rhetorical pablum of John Edwards. …
When Obama speaks, he tells of an elevated nothing. The Democrat frontrunner lifts his eyes, raises his voice, and describes a visionary nothing. At the peak of his oration, Obama resounds a thunderous nothing. When the senator from Illinois is on the stump, the crowd gasps, the women swoon, and even the stoic catch their breaths and exclaim, “Now that is nothing!”
It is a nothing rarefied in the elixir of our hopes and distilled with our zest for change. It is as intoxicating a nothing as ever there was. Obama pours out potent nothing, and each listener gives it his own special something.