I just spent a chunk of my day that I should have been working watching a rather well-done biopic of Winston Churchill called "Into the Storm", apparently made for HBO. Quite well done, and it inspired me to once again go and listen to some of his speeches. Quite a bit more entertaining than my current work on tipping points in the gold standard exchange system, at any rate!
That said perhaps the rise of Obama, something that was certainly not the most likely political outcome even a couple of years ago, has served to remind everyone about the power of language when deployed by a good speaker. So many of our public figures these days are poor orators, and it is my view that our public life suffers for it. Public figures communicate less than they should, in part because they do it poorly and know it. (yes, I'm looking at you misters Stelmach, Harper et. al.) When they do speak many people listen less than they should, because, to be frank, the listening isn't worth the trouble most of the time.
Some work on rhetoric, in the classical sense, seems to me to be something that would have a healthy impact on the body politic. I can always hope, right?
A good selection of Churchill's speeches can be heard and downloaded here: