Time Magazine: Obama Is A Synthesizer

We generally avoid politics at Synthtopia, but Time Magazine’s Joe Klein has penned an interesting take on Obama’s February 24 speech to Congress that’s relevant to synthesis.

In the article, Klein call’s Obama’s speech “A Tonal Masterpiece“, and compares the qualities of recent presidents as synthesizers:

The modern presidency is a vast electronic synthesizer, capable of exhilarating musical effects or rank cacophony. The President needs to be able to throw his voice in a variety of ways — now sober, now soaring, now educating, now soothing.

George W. Bush’s presidency was straitjacketed by his inability to command any style but clenched orotundity. The two great television-era communicators in the office were yin and yang: Bill Clinton was a master of the conversational, not so good at set-piece speeches; Ronald Reagan just the opposite.

Barack Obama has now demonstrated an ability to synthesize those two. On the day before his budget speech, the President was positively Clintonesque, interacting easily with a gang of high-powered political and business leaders at his entitlement summit, alternately ribbing Eric Cantor, the House Republican, about GOP intransigence, then wonking out on defense procurement policy with Senators Susan Collins and John McCain.

If the entitlement summit was a conversational concerto, the budget speech was a full-blown symphony featuring a percussive series of simple declarative sentences that conveyed a sense of command, especially in the emotional heart of the speech, the section on banking reform.

While Obama did do a great job with his speech (at least, as a speaker), Klein’s direct comparison of Obama to an electronic synthesizer is a little bizarre.

Other writers have compared Obama to a synthesizer, but not in such explicitly musical terms.

Disregarding politics and focusing on Obama’s oratory, do you think it’s valid to compare Obama to a synthesizer?

One thought on “Time Magazine: Obama Is A Synthesizer

  1. I think the Time Article said that the PRESIDENCY is a synth, not the PRESIDENT is one. Like any synth, it's only as good as he who programs and plays it.

    The President is playing it with exceptional skill, but this is the toughest audience in the world. I wish him luck.

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