Zelensky’s Speech

The president of Ukraine gave a speech to a combined session of the US Congress. A few thoughts:

First, his simplicity and combat garb amidst all the pomp and ceremony created a strong contrast. His rough tones and accented pronunciations, the ceremony and Pelosi banging her gavel, and the few simple jokes created a complex, almost conflicted appearance. It served him well.

Second, he picked his audience and tailored his speech to them. The reference to the Battles of the Bulge and Saratoga both showed some clear foresight.

Third, it was a speech designed to make friends. He didn’t insult or refute those who disagreed with them; he answered them and respected their concerns. There’s a big movement in the US right that’s pushing to restrict aid to Ukraine because of suspicions the aid is being wasted. Zelensky addressed this and affirmed their concerns with his comments about aid as an investment and being well spent. Likewise, there’s a chunk of the US left pushing to get Putin’s war stopped by any means necessary. He acknowledged that, pointed out that he’d given Biden suggested solutions, and appealed to Biden’s authority. The speech was designed to make friends and expand a big tent. That’s very uncommon in US politics.

Finally, no one applauds as much as US legislators. It’s the only way to make watching a speech an activity about the audience.

The flags were classy gestures.

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