Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Here's something that's making wingnuts grin like idiots right now:

"My Message is Simple": Obama's SOTU Written at 8th Grade Level for Third Straight Year

Obama's SOTU addresses have the lowest average Flesch-Kincaid score of any modern president; Obama owns three of the six lowest-scoring addresses since FDR

... for the third straight Address, the President's speech was written at an eighth-grade level.

... A Smart Politics study of the 70 orally delivered State of the Union Addresses since 1934 finds the text of Obama's 2012 speech to have tallied the third lowest score on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, at an 8.4 grade level....

Yeah, but at least Obama is less of a simpleton than that Ernest Hemingway guy -- if you take his story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" and put it in this Flesch-Kincaid reading level calculator, it comes out at a fifth-grade reading level. What a moron, that Hemingway!

Raymond Carver's short story "Cathedral"? Also fifth-grade. Same with this excerpt from The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Cretins, both of them!

But you know what gets a really, really high score?


It's written at a grade level of seventeen. (Which I guess is the first year of grad school.) Know what it is?

An Alan Keyes speech.

It gets graded that way because it has sentences like this:

We stand on the common ground of an understanding of justice that sees rights, that sees the difference between right and wrong, as dependent not upon willful attributes of ambition or natural physical attributes of color, but instead is dependent upon the will of the Almighty God who determined all of it and who has also determined that one of the attributes that we share as human beings is our unalienable right which leads then to a form of government based upon consent — and that is the spirit that the Tea Party movement expresses.

Lots of words, strung together semi-coherently -- that's what Obama refuses to give us. So Alan Keyes is smarter than he is! And smarter than Hemingway and Carver and McCarthy! The math proves it!


ploeg said...

Then you have the following passage, which gets a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 36:

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

By the way, the entirety of Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail gets a score of 13. Just so you know. In all likelihood, they would be slagging on King because of his run-on sentences.

Tom Hilton said...

Here's how it works: low Flesch-Kincaid score means Obama is an idiot; high score would mean that he's an out-of-touch elitist incapable of communicating with normal people.

BH said...

On the money, Tom.

Steve M. said...

Yes, absolutely on the money.

BH said...

My favorite stringer-of-sonorous-vacuities is the ineffable Rep. Col. West of Fla. I see various entertaining ironies in comparing his oratory to that of stereotypical southern Dems of 50+ years ago (and to Foghorn Leghorn's, for that matter).

c u n d gulag said...

I'm curious as to what Bush's speaches were?

If he wrote them himself, it might be a "K."
But he had people to write them for him.
But then, they had to write is so that he could read it even if he didn't understand more than half of it.

How do people who bitch about this manage to come up with great bumper sticker terms like "Death Taxes," and "Death Panels?"

Danp said...

Lots of words, strung together semi-coherently

So that's what makes Sarah Palin such an esoteric orator.

Steve M. said...

On a different scale, Bush's speeches are deemed simpler (and Palin's more complex -- anyone think she so much as changes a word of what she's handed?).

Ten Bears said...

8th grade is pretty much most "Americans" can understand.

Roger said...

"Palin's more complex -- anyone think she so much as changes a word of what she's handed?"

Palin's recent exhortation to Chris Christie, "don't get your panties in a wad," was rated NC-17 and got the SarahPAC website blocked by NetNanny.

Steve M. said...


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