Thursday, September 10, 2009

The tricks and delusions of oratory

"The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to oversimplify complex matters.  From a pulpit or a platform even the most conscientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth." Aldous Huxley

In last night's speech before a joint session of Congress, the President pulled all the stops on his vocal organ, played his strong suit, and deployed the "gift." But the gift has stopped giving, because people have started listening.

He accused opponents of using "scare tactics." This came after he'd piled scare tactic upon scare tactic himself to illustrate the problem. The healthcare system is "at the breaking point."  It offers "insecurity today."  People are dying! Thirty million can't get coverage, he said.

So, it was lofty oratory built on unsubstantiated claims; emotionally sustained by anecdotal tugs on the heart strings; punctuated with vague statistics; culminating in the remembrance of a liberal icon; that led to the invocation of that paradigm of welfare programs that's gone completely haywire.            

"There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory." Mark Twain


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