Nick Cohen (Evening Standard) writes a column about how Obama's presidency makes rhetoric "cool" again, as part of the discussion of a UK initiative to teach children suffering from "word poverty" (lack of copia verborum, obviously...) how and when to speak formal, correct English.
The view that oratory is phoney is a thoroughly modern one which has led to schools from the 1960s onwards abandoning the teaching of debating and public speaking. Virtually every other generation in history would have found their dismissal of the ability to convert your listeners absurd.
"Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men," said Plato, and Obama proved him right. Obama's victory renewed interest in rhetoric worldwide, and I am glad that in Britain the poorest children will benefit by being taught formal English.
Pupils in inner-city schools seem as far away as it is possible to be from the glamorous Obama campaign while remaining on the same planet. But far more people lose the chance for self-advancement because they cannot speak than ever lost a race to the White House.
The educational movements of the Sixties thought they were emancipating children by encouraging them to do their own thing and reject elitist rules.
Although it cleared out dead wood - no serious student of English believes that the old rules against split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions were anything more than dogmas - the results for children from modest backgrounds have been disastrous.
Sir Jim Rose, a former head of Ofsted who is reviewing language teaching for the Government, says that employers have told him of job applicants who cannot talk confidently on the telephone or hold a formal conversation.
He wants schools to teach speaking as a separate topic.
He knows what the ancient Greeks knew, but our generation forgot: words are weapons, and if you deprive the young of the ability to use them, you leave them defenceless.
Well, but if there's a proposal to teach kids how to make the Weaker Argument stronger, I imagine there'll be Aristophanean alarm bells, though...
For more on the UK proposal, see this article from the Times.