What We Can Learn from Dead Presidents

A couple of years ago I started my Dead President’s+ Valentine’s Boot Camp. To me the reason was clear. Past presidents and a few others like Prime Ministers can teach us so much from their words, how they said them and sometimes the visual as they said them or where they said them. Like Bobby Kennedy speaking from the back of a pick-up truck when he announced the death of Martin Luther King or FDR’s fireside chats.

Robert Kennedy’s way of evolved greatly after JFK was shot. RFK made a tour of Appalachia and his prose went from very long sentences with almost unpronounceable words to speech peppered with vulnerability.

MLK’s speaking style at the Lincoln Monument was very different than when he guested on Meet the Press. When Obama became president he became less animated and more formal.

It’s not historically true that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope on the way to the gig. But it is true that it is less than 300 words and yet with dramatical pauses he stretched it to 4 minutes.

With or without a Boot Camp we can learn from those figures that died a long time ago but left a big impression.

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