Skip to comments.An Infinite Deal of Nothing: How Not to Write a Political Speech
Posted on 07/11/2012 8:15:09 AM PDT by Jeanette Pryor
I dont believe my speeches took me as far as they did merely because of my rhetoric or delivery, but because there were certain basic truths in them that the average American citizen recognized. When I first began speaking of political things, I could feel that people were as frustrated about the government as I was. What I said simply made sense to the guy on the the street and its the guy on the street who elects presidents of the United States. And thats exactly what happened to me. Ronald Reagan
The staring contest with the stump speech I was editing must have gone on long enough for the espresso magician at Topekas best café, The Blackbird, to take pity on me. He brings another glass of ice to perk up my tepid cranberry juice and jump-start my gray matter.
What are you doing? he takes in the stack of books about Reagan flanked by crumpled paper.
Im writing and editing a campaign speeches.
I should have said that I was looking for a coherent thought in what Shakespeare would have called, an infinite deal of nothing.
Well, that sounds er fun. Whats the problem?
I cover the speech with my old copy of What I Saw at the Revolution.
In this case, there is nothing to polish. I mean, some speeches only need a few sentences moved or a paragraph shortened. Others are devoid of substance from start to finish.
Espresso man nods and offers the appropriate nihilist response: Voting is actually a narcissist ritual. We dont actually process what politicians say, we just vote for reflections of ourselves.
He references his own Capstone paper that proves all marketing feeds consumerism and capitalism. I smile. A patron enters and Espresso Nietzsche sells him a five dollar cup of coffee.
I look down at Peggy Noonans face smiling up at me. Its time for another revolution, infinitely more modest but crucial nonetheless. Its really time stop writing and speaking words that mean nothing. Its bad enough that pathological lying and cognitive dissonance top the list of the required skills for civil servants.
Eloquent deception, we can work with. The absence of a coherent concept in a twenty-minute spewing of words, has to go. I pick up a red pen and begin drawing beautiful, revolutionary lines through the speech. The executed platitudes bleed and die. I erect a monument to their memory here and invite fellow speech-writers to come bid them farewell.
Platitudes Whose Death Was Only Untimely Because It Came Too Late
Our country is going in the wrong direction
We must put our country on the right track
We must take back our country
Our liberties are being taken away
We need to stop stealing our childrens future
We need to stop stealing our grandchildrens future
This is not the America we grew up in
Are you better off now than .(This is the Joe Montana Jersey of political utterances. Like Ask not what your country can do for you, it has been retired and must never be used. Particularly by mortals.)
(Sorry, Mitt) I believe in America
This is the election of our lifetimes
I am going to create jobs (Government does not create jobs)
My plan will create an atmosphere in which jobs can flourish (This is slightly less offensive than the promise to create jobs)
Our opponents are shredding the Constitution (Possibly true, but soporific due to over-use)
Its time to work together, come together anything together
There is a war on small businesses
Any phrase beginning with, If you elect me I will
I am not a career politician
We the people
And the worst: any phrase that conveys the idea that your grade-school children helped craft your policies
These phrases should be anathema for a political communicators, not because they are false, most are not, but because they no longer provoke genuine thought or inform the voter of proposed concrete solutions informed by sound political philosophy.
The stump-speech, should be inspired by the words of Ronald Reagan and make sense to the guy on the street. The speech should do nothing more or less than clearly identify the social problems for which the candidate is able to provide substantive, precise solutions. Often, as Reagan famously said, Government is the problem, the solution proposed is going to be the extrication of the government from the issue.
Tomorrow we will ask The Boss to remind us of the solutions he proposed for common social problems and the core philosophy from which they flowed.
Here are a few things to avoid if one is a Romney speech writer:
1.) Avoid the worn out line: “ I just don’t think - - - “ (Comment: this leads the audience to believe that Romney really doesn’t think. There is already a perception that Romney in not in touch with REALITY).
2.) Avoid the worn out line: “ - - - that this president - - - “ (Comment: EVERYBODY knows that Obama is a Dictator and should be referred to as such, it is just common courtesy!).
3.) Avoid the worn out phrase: “ - - - understands how this economy works.” (Comment: WE KNOW that Obama is determined to destroy the US Ecomony! Obama is a Bolshevik! Destroying Banks is what Bolsheviks ALWAYS do first. We know all that! Now, just say what it is that YOU are going to do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)!
Recently downloaded an interesting book from mises.org, One is a Crowd, by Frank Chodorov. Published in 1952, the book makes it clear that even then we had already been on the wrong track for a long time. He traces the death of America to the passing of the 16th Amendment. Once the government has a claim on your income, freedom is gone.
I always wondered why Social Security itself was constitutional. What gave the Federal Government the right to impose a savings plan on people? The intellectual ancestors of John Roberts called it a savings plan, but it was constitutional because it was actually a tax.
If you don't want to read the whole book, the income-tax-as-doom argument is made separately in The Income Tax: Root of all Evil.
"Thus, the immunities of property, body and mind have been undermined by the Sixteenth Amendment. The freedoms won by Americans in 1776 were lost in the revolution of 1913."
It took a century for the 16th Amendment to put us under the thumb of the likes of Barack Obama. According to Chodorov, it was inevitable.