Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two analysis of Bill Clinton's Speech at the DNC - Great Takeaways

Why Bill Clinton's Speeches Succeed - The Atlantic
Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.
That is the significance of "They want us to think" and "The strongest argument is" and "The arithmetic says one of three things must happen" and even "Now listen to me here, this is important." He is showing that he understands the many layers of logic and evidence and positioning and emotion that go into political discussion -- and, more important, he takes for granted that listeners can too.
The main other place you hear discussion based on the same assumption that people of any background, education level, or funny-sounding accent can understand sophisticated back-and-forth of argument and counter-claim is sports-talk radio. ("I understand the concern about Strasburg's arm. But ... ") You hear insults and disagreements and put-downs on sports-talk discussions. You rarely hear the kind of deliberate condescension, the unconcealable effort as if talking to slow learners, of many political "authorities" addressing the unwashed.
It's the difference between clarifying, and over-simplifying. 
Bill Clinton Shows How It's Done - The Atlantic 
Clinton made arguments. He talked through his reasoning. He went point by point through the case he wanted to make. .....
He began with an appeal to bipartisanship -- a clever and unexpected turn in a partisan speech, one pitched directly to independent voters in their living rooms. "Nobody's right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day," he said. "And every one of us and every one of them, we're compelled to spend our fleeting lives between those two extremes, knowing we're never going to be right all the time and hoping we're right more than twice a day." Then he pivoted to attack: "Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government is always the enemy, they're always right, and compromise is weakness."....
"My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we'll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in," he said. "If you want a winner-take-all, you're-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we're-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."
A few minutes after Clinton was finished, a spokesman for the Romney campaign delivered its response: ""President Clinton drew a stark contrast between himself and President Obama tonight." He did nothing of the sort, of course. But the point was, the GOP knew it wouldn't get far taking on Clinton. Instead, the Republicans could only hope he was so good at pumping up Obama that Obama might pale in comparison. In its way, that was the greatest tribute of all.

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