SOMEONE forgot to inform the speechifyers at the...

Salmagundi

July 17, 1992

SOMEONE forgot to inform the speechifyers at the Democratic National Convention that just because they yell doesn't mean they sound like Jesse Jackson.

A miracle happens when a great orator thunders: Words that might be read and forgotten turn to magic. Emotions start roiling. People start believing. A palpable euphoria builds until the echoes of the last sentence finally fade.

But when an ordinary speaker thunders, he doesn't lift spirits or move mountains. He just makes noise.

Washington D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly is an ordinary speaker. She had some interesting things to say about D.C. statehood during her few minutes before the convention, but she shouted so loudly that she almost drowned out her own message.

You heard her voice on the radio, and you reached for the knob to turn down the noise.

Listen the next time a great speaker -- a Jackson or a Cuomo -- speaks, and you'll see that it isn't all shouting, any more than Michael Jordan's game is all spectacular slam dunks. It's rhythm and cadence and knowing how to make an audience rapt before the thunder starts.

So let the masters of the art boom away. The rest should save the theatrics.

They won't sound like Jesse Jackson, but at least we won't have to strain above the racket to hear what they're saying.

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