Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama Treats the American People Like 8th Graders

There’s talking down to people, and then, there’s condescending.

Delivering a speech that is pitched at an 8th grade reading comprehension level must count as both talking down and condescending. Even when the speaker is the President of the United States.

It’s not the first time that Barack Obama took the American people for a bunch of 8th graders. He has always spoken to Americans as though they were prepubescent preteens.

By comparison, his twelve predecessors have pitched their speeches to late 10th grade reading comprehension.

Politico reports the bad news:

President Obama's 2012 State of the Union address again rated at an 8th grade comprehension level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test — the third lowest score of any State of the Union address since 1934.

The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics conducted an analysis on the last 70 State of the Union addresses and found that President Obama's three addresses have the lowest grade average of any modern president. "Obama's average grade-level score of 8.4 is more than two grades lower than the 10.7 grade average for the other 67 addresses written by his 12 predecessors," they conclude.

"The Flesch-Kincaid test is designed to assess the readability level of written text, with a formula that translates the score to a U.S. grade level. Longer sentences and sentences utilizing words with more syllables produce higher scores. Shorter sentences and sentences incorporating more monosyllabic words yield lower scores," the University of Minnesota's Eric Ostermeier explains.

Either Obama thinks that the American people are not very bright, or he believes that the people who voted for him are poorly educated, or else he himself thinks like an eighth grader.

I report; you decide.


Cappy said...

Maybe that is all he's capable of.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I'm from Canada, and Pierre Trudeau used to talk to US like we were in kindergarten! He used small words, slowly....

Also - we had an NDP leader named Ed Broadbent - Obama sounds just like him.

Nick said...

Drew Barrymore: Obama's speech was 'incredible'!

Headline LOL of the day.

Anonymous said...

You are correct in either he is trying to adapt to his audience or he is also at that level. I think he is at that level, or at least he past speeches also verify that.

He's only been told repeatedly he is brilliant, but like many who knew him before, there really isn't much proof.

Anonymous said...

I find your article lacking in credulity. You are a condescending ignoramus for being unable to realize that the Flesch-Kincaid readability test does not give any indication on the nature or complexity of the topic under review. I draw pity from your pathetic attempt to appear unbiased in saying 'I report; you decide' when you clearly unleashed a barrage of insults against Obama. I implore you to become more objective and carry out more research so that you can appear less dim witted in the future.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for gracing the comments page with a bunch of mindless and poorly written invective.

Still, I have taken the opportunity this morning to write a more substantive response to the post on the Economist blog, so I would direct your attention there.

I Am Iron Man said...

Of course then you actually look at the report and you see that Obama's #s are almost exactly the same as George HW Bush's #s ... so ... are you going to make the same attack on him?

Doesn't this just prove (once again) how certain people will attack Obama no matter what he does or says?