On eve of State of the Union: top five presidential orators of modern times

In advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, one author has ranked the top five presidential orators since 1933.

3. Barack Obama

Kevork Djansezian/AP
President Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senate candidate, tours the convention floor at the FleetCenter in Boston, Sunday, July 25, 2004, two days before he would give the keynote address.

Greene sees a direct line from then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic National Convention speech to his rise to the presidency in 2008.

“It’s truly one of the greatest speeches in American history,” said Greene.

Greene has also written that Obama comes closer than any other president to using the “rhythm, body language, pauses and punctuation and nuances in voice tone to ‘sing’ a speech,” like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Though Obama is a great orator, that very skill might be the thing that has lead to some voters feeling disconnected from the president.

“The oratorical thing can seem distancing to certain people,” said Greene.

But that may be changing. Greene sees the speech Obama gave at the memorial for victims of the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., as a turning point for the president.

“For all of those people who have not felt a connection to this guy on a human level, Tucson softened them,” said Greene.

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