Andrew C. McCarthy was at the Heartland Institute last week (12 June to be precise). He delivered a talk to promote his new book Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.
This, it seems to me, is eye-catching subject matter when such a distinguished attorney is broadcasting it. Amazon quotes The New York Times thus:
His background distinguishes him from pundits on the left and the right.
I wonder whether the speech excites equivalent interest.
In posting this video on You Tube, The Heartland Institute removed McCarthy’s introduction, so we are not privy to the “litany of past accomplishments” that apparently precede this speech. We start when he does, and his speech gives way to Q&A at 37:30.
When trainees of mine, struggling with a huge deck of slides representing the fruit of some enormously expensive piece of corporate research, are sweating over how to precis it to an audience, I invariably tell them not to bother. The audience will get that deck in hard-copy; so then the speaker’s job becomes not to precis it but to trail it. Just as a film trailer doesn’t tell you how the movie pans out but seeks to persuade you to watch the movie, so you should prepare some sexy cherry-picking in such a way that the audience becomes determined to read through all the rest of that hard-copy.
By precisely the same token I hoped that McCarthy would trail this book and not precis it. He trails it.
My heart momentarily sank when he produced a sheaf of papers at the beginning, but never did he look at it. This speech is shot entirely from the hip, and is all the better for that.
It’s also well structured: he tells us clearly how he approached the lay-out of the book, takes us through that layout, and cherry-picks (that expression again) examples in passing. What makes it all rather startling is the calm matter-of-fact way he recounts a stream of spine-chilling stuff. I keep reminding myself that he is not just a lawyer, but has spent many years as a prosecuting attorney. What may be spine-chilling to me is mundane to him.
The proof of the pudding for a speech such as this is whether it works. Has it persuaded me to buy and read the book?