Hvorfor skal du læse denne tale?
Lars Løkke Rasmussens tale er et bud på, hvordan man som politisk leder til en afslappet statsmiddag kan levere en tale, der både hylder venskab, leverer humor og sætter ord på fælles politiske værdier. Han frembragte stor latter i salen og talen cirkulerede vidt omkring på forskellige medier.
Talen er et godt eksempel på den epideiktiske genre, og den indeholder mange fællesskabsstyrkende elementer. Man finder dog også enkelte træk fra den deliberative genre, eftersom Løkke Rasmussen også ser fremad i forhold til det politiske samarbejde mellem USA og Norden.
Den retoriske situation
Lars Løkke Rasmussens skåltale til Barack Obama blev holdt i Det Hvide Hus den 13. maj 2016 under en statsmiddag for USA og de nordiske lande. Obamas præsidentperiode nærmer sig sin afslutning, og middagen fungerer som en hyldest af det venskabelige bånd mellem USA og Norden.
Typisk er talerne af løssluppen karakter med et forventeligt indhold af humor, drilleri og (selv)ironi. Løkke Rasmussen taler på vegne af Danmark og til dels Norden, og gæsterne til middagen er en blandet men velvillig flok af politikere, forretningsfolk og kendisser med relation til Norden. Lars Løkke Rasmussen taler som Obamas nære allierede, men også som Danmarks statsminister, så selvom det primære formål er at bekræfte gode relationer, har hans tale også et fremadrettet politisk sigte.
Mr. President, first lady, dear colleagues from my neighboring counties, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. “Once I was seven years old, my mama told me, Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely.”
Those lyrics are from Danish singer Lucas Graham’s no. 1 hit-song here in the U.S. And I’m a lucky guy, because my predecessors didn’t wait for this song to be released before they actually followed this advice. And therefore I am so privileged and happy to be here tonight – surrounded by good friends. From the Nordic countries, but first and foremost – you, Mr. President, your fantastic and dedicated wife Michelle, and all your fellow Americans.
The United States is truly one of Denmark’s closest friends. The first time you invited me into the Oval Office, Mr. President, you said that Denmark is punching above our weight. It made me proud. It made us Danes feel a little special. Now – some six years later – I understand that not only Denmark but all the Nordic countries punch above our weight. Nevertheless, I’m still proud. And I truly believe the same goes for my colleagues. You can count on us. You know that. And that is probably why we are all invited here tonight. We will continue to punch above our weight – and after tonight’s splendid dinner we will definitely step up into a whole new weight class…
The ties between the United States and the Nordics are strong and go way back. Nordic Vikings crossed the Atlantic centuries ago and discovered amazing America. Ever since, millions have left our rainy and windy countries – looking for a new start in America. Many of them settled in… Minnesota. I guess the weather there made them feel right at home.
The Nordic settlers took part in making America bright and beautiful. Scarlett Johansson, of Danish descent, is a living proof of that. The Swedes, Finns and Icelanders did their part too. Contributing to the gene pool that gave you Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, and Uma Thurman. And the Norwegians – well… They gave you Karl Rove. Among many other things. So I guess it true to say that we have had a certain impact on America – in many different ways.
The question is. Can we Nordics still contribute to America? And the answer is as simple as it is famous: Yes. We. Can!
Nordic architects, like Bjarke Ingels, contribute to transforming American cities with projects like the New York Dryline and the redesign of the Smithsonian here in Washington. Based on a vision of making urban areas more liveable, smart and sustainable. Both the US and the Nordic countries try to set positive standards for the world of tomorrow. Taking the lead.
Speaking of taking the lead – it’s easy to see the importance and value of your leadership, Mr. President. Without interfering in American politics I can truly and without a doubt say that: You have been the best president – Europe never had. Now your presidency is coming to an end. And I must admit: I’m very fond of Donald, too… I support him as president. He’s really smart. Shows great leadership skills. A true visionary. And I’m of course talking about Donald Tusk – our Polish President of the European Council which – in your absence – is the best president Europe could have.
Being a role model is not always easy…so I’ve heard. But you – Mr. President – have come to represent a dream for millions of Americans, and people across the world. We share a common vision of securing good, affordable healthcare to all. And I greatly respect your achievements in this regard.
Your leadership was also key to the Paris-agreement on Climate Change last year. Well both of us were disappointed after Copenhagen, but then worked hard, and finally in Paris we succeeded. And we continue our work together on the green transition. Recently, you swept the White House in the rainbow colours. Being the first country on earth to allow same-sex partnership, Denmark admires and supports your fight for diversity and equal rights.
Nevertheless – your presidency is slowly coming to an end. Congress will probably try to block most of your initiatives in the time to come. That can be frustrating. Believe me – Being leader of a small minority government I know that from personal experience. And if I may – allow me to give you a piece of personal advice: When I get too frustrated I let off steam by… cooking. I can recommend that. And if you do take my advice, I think you could be inspired by the New Nordic cuisine. It already involves edible rarities such as moss, bark and living ants. But maybe you could be helpful in our search for a recipe for lame duck.
Mr. President, you are a great friend and ally. Solrun and I will always be very happy to welcome you and your family in Copenhagen. And Denmark would – as all the Nordic countries I believe – be honored to receive one of the most inspirational and charming figures in America. Along with her husband, of course. So, dear Michelle. Mr. President. Ladies and Gentlemen. Let me propose a toast for the strong relations between our nations. The very special cross Atlantic friendship between US and the Nordic. To friendship… Thank you.
Det siger retorikerne:
Vi mener, at talen overordnet set er velfungerende - hvilket blandt andet også kan måles i latter hos publikum. Selvom vi mener, at Løkke Rasmussens koblinger til tider er ret søgte, må man sige, at det fungerer godt i den amerikanske kontekst.
En anke er dog, at hans brug af eksempler virker en anelse forceret. Det virker på os, som om Løkke Rasmussen har siddet med en liste over internationalt anerkendte danske kunstnere og fænomener, som partout skulle indgå i talen (Lukas Graham, Bjarke Ingels og det nordiske køkken). Men han får dem bundet sammen, og han laver jokes, der rammer plet, og det fungerer, fordi stemningen er så løssluppen og velvillig, som den er.
Strukturen er altså ikke bærende for talens succes, men Lars Løkke Rasmussen leverer en vellykket skåltale til Barack Obama, der både hylder venskab, leverer humor og sætter ord på fælles politiske værdier.