Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Great Communicator

The media placed that label on President Ronald Reagan. I beg to differ. Reagan was an actor so he was comfortable in front of cameras and reporters. He thought quickly on his feet. Reagan delivered the message well but Peggy Noonan wrote the speeches he gave. Should she be wearing the title instead?

I ask the question because I recently returned from a trip to the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield, Illinois. One of the many things that I learned during that visit was that Lincoln wrote his own speeches. He toiled over them, carefully selecting words and crafting phrases that would properly convey his intent.

Lincoln was a reader. He had to be. There was no television, no Wii and no film to entertain him. We all know the stories about him reading by firelight. He became a lawyer and wrote all his arguments. When he ran for political office, it was his own words that he spoke in campaign speeches.

Lincoln could not text 140 words to anyone. He couldn’t even make a telephone call. He had to write. And what a benefit to all of us that he could. Our 16th president crafted words so well that he changed us as a nation. What would have happened, both to him and to us, if he had not given his all to the “House Divided” speech, the Emancipation Proclamation, or the Gettysburg Address?

We owe a great deal to President Lincoln. He was our greatest communicator.

More next week.

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