You thought Bill Clinton was good at giving speeches? You have no idea just how good. You've just got to read "Conversation with a Teleprompter" from the New Yorker, published yesterday, September 7th.
I'll give you my own spin of it below the squiggle.
Let's start with this fact: not a lot of information can fit on a teleprompter.
So you're Clinton, and you're standing in front of 40,000 cheering delegates, you're on national TV, you're giving a speech that'll burnish your legacy -- and you see this in the teleprompter:
When times areI'd wager 99 out of 100 politicians read this word for word. Because it's probably all you can do to read it without fumbling and read it with some sense of emotion.
conflict may be good
politics, but in the
Now, if Bill Clinton did say it word-for-word, he'd have something pretty good:
When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics, but in the real world, cooperation works better.But where most politicians are reading the final draft and would be too fearful to mess it up by improvising, what Clinton sees in the teleprompter is like the first draft to him. He is playing off the energy of the crowd. He's synthesizing a lifetime of public speaking instantly. And on the spot, he comes back with sheer poetry:
When times are tough and people are frustrated, and angry, and hurting, and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good, but what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation. What works in the real world is cooperation—business and government, foundations and universities.The article from the New Yorker is filled with example after example, identifying the poetry in his improvisations. I highly recommend you check it out; you'll have fun reliving the speech, and you'll realize you missed half of what an amazing speech it truly was. And if you want more, you can also check out the full breakdown.
Oh, yeah -- one more thing. If you're wondering how many people are aware of how fun it is to hear a speech from Clinton: Clinton's speech outdrew the first NFL game of the year.