August 30, 2008

Rhetorica Update

I’ve changed my plans. I going to wait until after the RNC to analyze the two acceptance speeches. Live blogging and on-the-fly analyses so far have been fun. But, really, I don’t want to be auditioning for a role as campaign pundit. I still plan to live blog the RNC.

August 28, 2008

DNC Night #4


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August 28, 2008

"You Want My Asinine Analysis"

Oh, yeah. Best media criticism on television:

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August 28, 2008

Note About Tonight’s Live Blogging

I’ll be attending a watch party at a local hotel. I understand there is a wifi. I’ll arrive early to scout out a good location, i.e. near an electrical outlet. A hitch could develop in the system. Just FYI.

Also: I’ll do a short analysis of the speeches by Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama on Saturday because my day tomorrow is booked solid.

August 28, 2008

Remember Those Who Did Not Live to See This Day

What we’ll witness tonight was unimaginable 45 years ago.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Go read, or listen to, the whole thing.

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August 28, 2008

How to Notice a Theme

The other day I briefly discussed live blogging and wondered what good it is. I found that (potential) good in the conversation that the Cover It Live software makes possible.

What has always bugged me about live blogging (my doing it anyway) is that if you go for speed you sacrifice depth, and if go for depth you miss a lot of good stuff. That’s obviously an over-simplification.

But with active participants in the live blogging, good things can begin to happen. For example, those who have been participating with me (4 at one point last night!) have identified, and begun to discuss, interesting themes at the DNC. We’ve identified the “future” theme, the “kitchen-table” theme, and the “warrior” theme. You might also call these memes or emerging master narratives. Or, as the third umpire says, “they ain’t nuthin’ ’til I calls ’em.” (In case you don’t know the routine, the first ump says “I calls ’em as I sees ’em,” and the second ump says “I calls ’em as they are.”)

So while any given live blogging session here is shallow and somewhat goofy, we can mine the text for its gems and elaborate on them later. There’s the value.

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August 27, 2008

DNC Night #3


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August 27, 2008

Get Stupid

The New York Times gets it exactly right:

Madonna’s video is immeasurably worse. If she thought she was helping Mr. Obama by juxtaposing his image with that of Gandhi and Bono, she was wrong.

We do not subscribe to the “shut up and sing” notion that celebrities should stay out of politics — a position most often espoused by Republicans about stars who support Democrats. There is no room in decent discourse for comparing a candidate for president to Hitler.

Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman, was exactly right when he called the video “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” Mr. Obama’s team also swiftly denounced it. “These comparisons are outrageous and offensive and have no place in the political process,” said a spokesman, Tommy Vietor.

The problem is, however, that if you’re playing the game of politics, then you’re playing on a muddy field. That’s the reality. That’s always been the reality. And no amount of promising to change or whining about the results is going to change that reality. Don’t even bother getting into a “he started it” argument. Someone always starts it. The news media always report it. And the other guy always grabs a handful of mud in response.

Get over it.

But some things are out of bounds. Madonna’s transgression isn’t even close to debatable in this regard.

Now, what else is out of bounds, or should be? Now that presents problems.

The sad thing is that negative campaigning works. We know it works. We have the hard data. If it didn’t work, politicians wouldn’t do it. Mudslinging works because partisan citizens care more about winning, and the power that follows from winning, more than they care about _______ (fill in the blank with your cherished civic virtue of choice).

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August 27, 2008

Mission(s) Accomplished

I think Hillary Clinton had two missions last night. I cannot say which was the most important. Only she could answer that. But it seems to me that she needed to 1) convince her supporters that the party is united behind Barack Obama and 2) keep herself viable for 2012. Missions accomplished.

I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton. I have praised speeches by people I’m not fond of before on Rhetorica–including president Bush (who I am really really not fond of). I thought she delivered an effective and powerful address–this from a person I consider a weak public speaker at best. She had great material.

Her Diction 5.0 score demonstrates that she delivered, in terms of tone, a fairly standard campaign speech. She scored very high in “variety” as did Michelle Obama, indicating a belief in a wide range of expressions (and, therefore, ideas) acceptable to the audience.

I think she effectively slam-dunked the disunity master narrative. And for any hold-out supporters, she delivered the best moment of the address:

Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

This moment actually completed her two missions. Everything before and after was good political theater and effective speechifying. But this was the masterstroke.

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August 26, 2008

DNC Night #2


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