Contrasts In Style

British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama held a news conference yesterday. The word “news” should be put in quotation marks. Each said what one would expect.   Never the less, there was a clear and distinct difference in style.

Both were well dressed and stood erect. Both looked towards the camera as well as canvasing the general audience. Both showed deference to the other and spoke well of each nation. But there was a difference.

Prime Minister Cameron listened to each question carefully, paused, and then answered with what he wanted to say seemingly ignoring the specific question. And as if to put the cherry on top of the sundae, the prime minister smiled back at the questioner.

President Obama a listened intently and paused. Oh, does he pause. Then in deliberately, drawn out phrases, the President responded to each question. With each sentence, President Obama poised midway, as if to silently hear the playback of what he had already said. With more complicated questions, the President paused midway several times. And when he finished, he smiled a smile that said, “I hope you understand that now”.

This contrast in styles signaled a contrast in intent. Prime Minister Cameron, who must each week enduring grilling from the House of Commons, practices the art of saying “nothing” forcefully and convincingly.  The Prime Minister simply wanted listeners to know he was in charge.

President Obama, on the other hand, is pounded each day with outrageous sound bite questions from his loyal opposition.  The President must not ignore these partisan allegations for fear that the public will equate silence with acceptance.   The President’s nature, however, is to try and educate the listener.  Hence the long drawn out answers.

In an open interview or news conference format, education is both thankless and nearly impossible to achieve. President Quixote, however, apparently does not think so.

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