Jeb Bush is in. It was obvious but not official until last Monday, in Miami Dade College, when he addressed a welcoming crowd who ravishedly celebrated his messages. And the candidate was ravished. “Wow!,” he said.
Mr. Bush made important announcements; he dwelt on the promise of his presidency and campaigning style; he rejected the “progressive agenda that includes everything but progress”; and he crystal-balled America will “grow at a rate of 4 percent a year” when he’s in charge.
“Mom? Can you ask them to sit down, please?”
Still, the phrase that best portrayed him was his call for “Mom”‘s help [listen] to put some order in the room. I could see him, sixty-four years ago, “Mom? Georgie’s messed up my building blocks with his foot ball!”
Jeb Bush has an open voice. He uses his larynx without being aware of it. Like infants: they can cry their heart out but they seldom get hoarse because it’s an unconscious and spontaneous voice use. When I listen to Mr. Bush’s voice, I hear that. He doesn’t intentionally use of his voice in a persuasive manner. He doesn’t try to convince his listeners with passionate roars or enticing whispers.
But this straightforwardness has a downside. His pauses are too even and short, and the listener perceives his speech is not extemporaneous but read from A to Z.
His unenthusiastic intonation [listen] reminds us of the ninth grader delivering his paper on “The Twentieth Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture.”
He groups his sentences in chunks of similar duration, around 2.5 seconds [listen]. It’s a good timing, it helps the listener understand the message. But it’s monotonous.
Altogether, his style provokes speech hypnosis syndrome.
And worse, the candidate appears to have only a shallow comprehension about the matter.
When my nephew was six, he used to tell me he knew how to build houses. And he really knew, based on his simplistic understanding of the laws of physics.
Mr. Bush’s relaxed voice shows he’s confident in his power to do the things he promised. To grow at a 4 percent rate a year? Sure, “there’s no reason in this world why” not, he said. And “nineteen million jobs?” “Higher family income?” “Tax cuts?” Of course, “if I am elected President, I’ll show Congress how that’s done” [listen].
Populist politicians promise what people need. The difference? Mr. Bush – his voice says – candidly believes “it can be done” [listen].
Mr. Bush is not embarrassed by his slips of the tongue: he transitions them smoothly, corrects what he’s said wrong, and moves on [listen]. This shows his lack of arrogance and that he’s lenient with himself – Ezra Klein writes he’s lenient with his family, as well.
And one can tell he’s not a perfectionist. On the contrary, his relaxed voice frames an easy-going good-humored man. One who thinks everything’s good enough, when it comes to his own performance.
He doesn’t need to show off: the same attitude that drove him announce his candidacy without a suit, made him speak paying little attention to the dramatic aspect of his communication.
The question is, will he be persevering enough to endure the run?