The Washington Times - February 1, 2010, 12:46PM


Former Presidents George W. Bush  and Ronald Reagan did not have it easy when it came to critics attacking their intelligence, while President Obama, Former Vice - President Al Gore, and Former President Bill Clinton have been hailed as brilliant. Here is an interesting nugget of new information, though. President Obama blamed himself for not being able to communicate his message properly to Americans, but a new analysis of the president’s State of the Union speech, brings to light why Mr. Obama could be having problems in this area.


President Obama’s State of the Union speech was ranked fourth to the lowest since FDR’s first SOTU speech in 1934, says Smart Politics, a blog of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.:

“Text of Obama’s Address has a readability score for an average 8th grader - two grades lower than George W. Bush’s Addresses and the historical average for modern presidents.”

Mr. Obama’s speech not only scored lower than George W. Bush’s SOTU addresses but also almost 70 other past State of the Union addresses.:

“However, a Smart Politics analysis of nearly 70 oral State of the Union Addresses since the mid-1930s finds the text of Obama’s speech on Wednesday evening to have one of the lowest scores on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test ever recorded by a U.S. President.”

The Flesch - Kinkaid formula to measure the readability of a particular text can be easily verified by using a Microsoft Word function in the software which scores the text in the documents. The formula was developed in 1948 by Rudolph Flesch, an Austrian author, writing consultant, and supporter of the Plain English Movement.

In President Obama’s case, his Flesch-Kincaid grade level score was 8.8 for his first State of the Union Address, which was the fourth lowest  since FDR’s first Address in 1934. Smart Politics explains, “Obama wrote and delivered a speech that incorporated shorter sentences, with those sentences containing shorter words, than nearly every such Presidential Address in the modern era.” Stacked up next to President Obama, Mr. Bush’s Flesch-Kinkaid score places the average of President Bush’s score almost two grades ahead of Mr. Obama’s speech on Wednesday.:

 “Bush’s speeches also averaged 2.4 more words per sentence than Obama, at 19.0. In other words, the text of George W. Bush’s speeches are expected to be understandable (in written form) by an average sophomore in high school, whereas Obama’s speech should be understandable by a junior high school student.”

President Obama is known for a casual style of communicating with his audience, but it appears his laid back style of speaking is causing not only many to question some of the so-called facts he extols in his speeches but also how seriously he is taking his message to the people.