This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Speeches

 

At FiveThirtyEight — you know, the site that does opinion poll analysis and aggregation based on baseball sabermetrics and has pretty much been treated as a Delphic oracle ever since Nate Silver called the 2012 election? — they’re running a pukemaking pair of columns called The Perfect Democratic Stump Speech and The Perfect Republican Stump Speech.

They asked two well-known political speechwriters, Jeff Nussmann for the Democrats and Barton Swaim for the Republicans, to write the ideal, focus-group-tested, entirely-pandering stump speech for a generic Democratic or generic Republican presidential candidate. The speeches they wrote are based on the positions and phrases, according to polls and their experience, that most appeal to the target audience. Both include margin notes explaining why they chose those words and phrases, tips on how to deliver the lines, and the data they used to decide which positions the candidate should take.

“Here,” writes Nussbaum in the margin, “I’d advise a speaker to slow down and enunciate each syllable, matched with a forceful chopping gesture.” What’s the carefully-crafted line that requires this? Might it be something like, I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! or perhaps, You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold? Afraid not. The line is, “We’re going to get to work.” (Chop. Chop. Chop.)

Neither speechwriter reveals so much as a hint of shame about how deliberate they are in making sure they never commit the candidates to doing what the speech insinuates they’ll do. Swaim, for example, puts this line in the Republican speech: “We don’t need to take America back to some Cold War mentality, but we do need to speak and act with moral clarity about the naked aggression of Russia.” In the margins, he notes proudly that this is really good because,

Declaring an intention to speak and act with clarity or resoluteness is a nice way to criticize the present occupier of the office (in this case President Obama) — thus capitalizing on people’s suspicions that he isn’t decisive or doesn’t take principled stands — without obligating yourself to pursue specific policies once in office.

He published that comment. Proud of it, I’d guess. Just the way it is, right?

So I get it, now. You all know how baffled I’ve been by the insistence among all the Republican candidates that we don’t need to have a Syria policy, we just need a president who’s willing to say, “radical Islamic terrorism.” (Chop. Chop. Chop.) I truly didn’t get why saying that was supposed to help, but now I do. Their internal pollsters have figured out that those are winning words that make them sound principled and decisive. But heaven forfend the candidates feel obligated to pursue a specific policy once in office, particularly if they’ve been elected with a mandate to carry it out. Therefore that’s all the speechwriters let them say. So I’m guessing we should look forward to exactly the same policies, only this time, the president will say “radical Islamic terrorism” three times quickly every morning while turning seven times in a clockwise circle and wearing the pair of lucky socks he hasn’t washed since the Cowboys won the Superbowl. Or something.

I know. No one promised me democracy was a rose garden, only that it was better than any other system anyone’s ever tried. I’m not a child, I get it; all the stirring speeches in the world mean nothing if the candidate can’t get himself elected.

But here’s my question. Why does this sort of thing get a candidate elected? Why do people like it? Read both the perfectly-pandering Democrat stump speech and the perfectly-pandering Republican one. Look at the notes. Try to pretend you haven’t read the notes and don’t know, for a fact, just how much contempt these speechwriters and by implication the candidates who hire them feel for you. Imagine listening to the speech. Would you be anything but annoyed? Does it not sound to you like exactly what it is — a series of overused and vacant clichés? Can you imagine being moved, despite yourself? Do you not feel that both speeches sound like every speech Obama has given in the past eight years? Would you not sense, immediately, that the candidate believes you, the listener, to be really very, very stupid and easily manipulated?

If you would, does this not suggest that Ricochet is very different from the rest of the electorate? If we are, why? But most important, why does the rest of the electorate now prefer this sort of blathering, patronizing speech, when really, within living memory, it fully expected — and demanded — presidential candidates who would if necessary be able to make this sort of speech?

I’m baffled, honestly. What changed and when? Peter, you’d have the best insight of any of us — what’s happened to speechwriting culture?

There are 104 comments.

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  1. Member

    This is what is amazing to me. FDR arguably did more harm to this country than many other presidents, with the establishment of what has become an out of control welfare state. But he was respectful to congress; he addressed the entire nation. He was respectfully applauded by the entire congress. I wonder what any one of those men in that room – liberal or conservative – would think while listening to a speech by Barry Obama.

    • #1
    • February 19, 2016 at 10:39 pm
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  2. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    RyanM: ut he was respectful to congress; he addressed the entire nation. He was respectfully applauded by the entire congress

    I was watching that with the same sense of amazement. I don’t think the loss of respect for the office of the presidency is entirely Obama’s fault, although surely some of it is. Much of it is ours for repeatedly electing presidents who can’t command that kind of respect. Some of it must be the media environment, too: You’d never know from watching that clip that Roosevelt was in a wheelchair, would you. There was complicity from the media in making the man seem larger than life, which at a time like that, proved essential: We needed someone in that office who could appear to be. A lot has gone into this. Modern polling techniques have been a disaster — they’ve given a huge incentive to candidates to campaign and govern by opinion poll, rather than from principle and instinct. It’s a pretty complex thing, but it’s clear we no longer respect the office of the presidency, and that’s a great loss.

    • #2
    • February 19, 2016 at 10:45 pm
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  3. Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Declaring an intention to speak and act with clarity or resoluteness is a nice way to criticize the present occupier of the office (in this case President Obama) — thus capitalizing on people’s suspicions that he isn’t decisive or doesn’t take principled stands — without obligating yourself to pursue specific policies once in office.

    Is the guy who wrote this actually a conservative, though?

    Interestingly enough, the reason so many are buying Trump’s snake oil is because he specifically lays out grandiose promises. Wall? Done! Isis? We’re going to kill them. Obamacare? Gone! He does the exact opposite of the quoted paragraph by making promises that he couldn’t possibly keep. This is, perhaps, because we so long for someone who will at least be honest about what he is actually going to attempt. I think that if Trump hadn’t decided to pull this con act, we would be seeing a tremendous push for Cruz simply because he tends to speak in unequivocal terms. What we really seem to need is someone who owns conservatism. Trump pretends to, much like some liberal hollywood actor might pretend to be a conservative by putting on a southern accent and using the N-word. But someone who sincerely believes in conservatism and will openly say those things that so many of us feel (in our daily lives and workplaces) that we sort of have to be hush-hush about? That’s the opposite of what this guy is saying, and it is exactly what people are demanding.

    • #3
    • February 19, 2016 at 10:49 pm
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  4. Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    RyanM: ut he was respectful to congress; he addressed the entire nation. He was respectfully applauded by the entire congress

    I was watching that with the same sense of amazement. I don’t think the loss of respect for the office of the presidency is entirely Obama’s fault, although surely some of it is. Much of it is ours for repeatedly electing presidents who can’t command that kind of respect. Some of it must be the media environment, too: You’d never know from watching that clip that Roosevelt was in a wheelchair, would you. There was complicity from the media in making the man seem larger than life, which at a time like that, proved essential: We needed someone in that office who could appear to be. A lot has gone into this. Modern polling techniques have been a disaster — they’ve given a huge incentive to candidates to campaign and govern by opinion poll, rather than from principle and instinct. It’s a pretty complex thing, but it’s clear we no longer respect the office of the presidency, and that’s a great loss.

    Well, and the limitations of the media tended to be good, I think. Much like the original Star Wars was so great on account of the fact that George Lucas was not equipped with the means to achieve his actual vision. That old black and white was little but the facts, because that’s all they had really figured out how to capture.

    If I was going to blame anyone, I’d start with Clinton. Maybe that’s just because it was my first “adult” experience, but it seemed that that was when you started to hear “well, he’s just a man, after all.” In my mind, that opened up the door for liberals to make intensely personal attacks on George W. Bush (fueled mostly by the media, late-night talk, SNL, and the Daily Show). All of that gave rise to our first celebrity president who was successful, in part, because of his willingness to legitimize animosity (in his speeches, etc…). Donald Trump is a parody of that, but after 8 years, he is a compelling parody. I don’t see it getting any better until we are able to elect a conservative president who is simply not willing to play the game; and like a sort of reverse frog-in-the-kettle, he gives us 8 years of respect for the office and civility toward the opposing side. I don’t know if that will even work, but it seems to me the only realistic option for any sort of turnaround.

    • #4
    • February 19, 2016 at 10:55 pm
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  5. Inactive

    Claire- I believe it comes down to two assumptions:

    1. These speeches are perfectly tuned to go against an opponent who plays by the exact same rules of the game.
      1. Never make the candidate take a risk
      2. Always have an escape clause on any declarative statement
      3. Replace action words with less hard talking and thinking words
      4. Stir emotions, but not too much.
      5. Speechwriters get fired for immediate bad reactions, are never rewarded for long term historical enshrinement (Listen to Peter talk about “Tear Down This Wall” and the process around that line.

    I believe this is why the public codes people as ‘politicians’ with a negative. They know the talk is cotton candy and not red meat.

    This is why Trump is driving everyone absolutely nuts. He actually takes risks and then doubles down when he talks. He talks to his audiences, not at them. It is all ad lib. It may not be real coherent, but it is not the same old stuff.

    The whole thing reminds me of the scene with Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when confronted with an adversary who is wielding a sword with great skill and showing perfect technique, sighs with tired exasperation, pulls out his pistol and shoots the guy. The audiences went crazy. (It was an ad lib move, the scriptwriters were horrified)

    The good news is the rules are changing. The bad news is you may dislike the replacement even more.

    • #5
    • February 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm
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  6. Moderator

    Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, Graham, Gilmore, and Jindal were all willing and able to give detailed foreign policy speeches that weren’t dumb. Santorum and Paul were willing to give detailed foreign policy speeches.

    It’s true that the generic and meaningless stuff appeals to some candidates (I did wonder if ““It’s complicated; just trust us.” *Clearly, no one would actually say that.” was a dig at Cruz), but we’ve always had that sort of candidate. It’s true that the snake oil salesmen are doing better this cycle than usual, but that’s always been the sort of metric that’s fluctuated with time. I don’t think it’s so much that America’s sick as that we’ve had two particularly talented hucksters coming onto the scene.

    The Democrats weren’t particularly sick in 2004 when they had Edwards, Dean, Sharpton, and Kucinich in the race, and they came back in the next mid-term with a fair number of strong candidates and won in 2008 after a primary in which Biden, Clinton, Obama, Richardson, and probably even Dodd were all candidates who would have won in a landslide and passed significant amounts of progressive reforms. They were all people who could, and did, talk wonkishly about policy in intelligent ways, most of them having passed complex legal reforms themselves.

    • #6
    • February 19, 2016 at 11:15 pm
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  7. Member

    RyanM: Trump pretends to, much like some liberal hollywood actor might pretend to be a conservative by putting on a southern accent and using the N-word.

    What? Is that your idea of southerners?

    But someone who sincerely believes in conservatism and will openly say those things that so many of us feel (in our daily lives and workplaces) that we sort of have to be hush-hush about?

    Fortunately, I work in a place where anyone with liberal views would be laughed out of the office. If anyone has them, they keep them to themselves.

    • #7
    • February 19, 2016 at 11:35 pm
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  8. Member

    In all fairness to today’s candidates, they are surrounded by attack dog reporters. I don’t blame them for playing it safe.

    I saw an interesting documentary about the relationship of the press to the government which pegged the transforming event as the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. The documentary said that up to that point, the press pretty much accepted what the government said as truthful and important and reliable. After that, not so much. Now, of course, they question everything. It’s antagonistic.

    Plus, the reporters are trying to make a name for themselves as well.

    So there are all these competing forces in play whenever the candidates or politicians speak.

    I know I’ve said this before, but President Bush gave a tremendous foreign policy speech when he was campaigning the first time. He was older than Cruz and Rubio are now, and his dad had been VP for eight years, president for four–the world was pretty small to GW.

    • #8
    • February 19, 2016 at 11:36 pm
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  9. Member

    MarciN: Now, of course, they question everything. It’s antagonistic.

    If the person they’re talking about is a Republican.

    • #9
    • February 19, 2016 at 11:41 pm
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  10. Inactive

    Here’s a speech for you:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf93KLP8P4o

    Let’s elect this guy for president.

    • #10
    • February 20, 2016 at 12:18 am
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  11. Inactive

    We could do this experiment in reverse, and consider the quality of the speaker from the interior first.

    At the highest rank, there would be a man of such intellectual powers, fortitude, and dignity, that he would be able to write something along the lines of the Federalist papers himself, that he would be able to think its arguments and designs through himself and make these arguments himself–one man alone, unaided. He would be able to speak extemporaneously, and brilliantly. He wouldn’t require a speechwriter, but might employ one in a mass-media age; in this case, he probably corrects his speechwriter rather than the reverse.

    In the second rank, there would be a man who is not able to perform the feats of the first, but a man who by himself was able, unaided, to understand the speeches and deeds of the first sort of man, a kind of man he would look up to in some awe. He would deeply imbibe the spirit of the first sort of man, and his particular skill would be to be a careful steward of that legacy. He can speak extemporaneously and well. He might employ a speechwriter to free up his hours.

    In the third rank, there would be a man who is not able to perform the deeds of the first, nor able to understand by himself alone what the first had done. This man needs good teachers, who, after some effort and after some effort of his own, can vaguely and gropingly begin to understand the first sort of man, and who, while feeling somewhat inferior to the second, still attempts to live up to what he sees. He likely can speak a extemporaneously, but somewhat clumsily. He likely relies on cliches in his speaking, though he understands more clearly than he articulates. He requires a speechwriter for polish.

    In the fourth rank, there would be the sort of man who really speaks to and for the masses, not at all like the men of the first two ranks, and a sort of vulgarized form of the man of the third rank. He has enjoyed all of the benefits of the first two, but doesn’t comprehend them and is even too blind to really understand how what they did produced these fruits. He is likely to make a mess of things because of this incomprehension–the names remain, but the form is not grasped. He probably cannot speak extemporaneously, and he thinks in cliches. He requires a speechwriter to do his thinking.

    We have an awful lot of people in our public life who are in the third and fourth ranks, described above. Each of them, too, speaks to a certain kind of voter and to a sort of public character. What does it say about ours?

    • #11
    • February 20, 2016 at 12:33 am
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  12. Inactive

    As someone who becomes increasingly cynical about politics in election years – but who also enjoys writing speeches – I found that fascinating, if not surprising. I’m not sure anyone involved in public relations or persuasion serves their profession by revealing their tricks, but let’s be honest – everyone who reads that will be just as fooled by the next speech their favorite candidate gives as they were before.

    • #12
    • February 20, 2016 at 1:59 am
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  13. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    listeningin:

    Let’s elect this guy for president.

    He’s pretty great.

    • #13
    • February 20, 2016 at 2:00 am
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  14. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    listeningin: Let’s elect this guy for president.

    This speech is even better. Watch all 17:25 minutes of it, and don’t miss the last seven minutes. Knowing that there are still Americans like this makes me feel better. Why can’t he run for president? Wouldn’t you sleep better at night with him in the White House? I would, and I only heard about him a half hour ago.

    • #14
    • February 20, 2016 at 2:37 am
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  15. Member

    The FDR comparison is unfair. He’s not campaigning for office, he’s addressing the nation after we suffered an air strike from Japan that destroyed a significant part of our navy and killed thousands of men. The appropriate comparison to it is GWB’s speech declaring war on terror. I don’t think GWB fares too badly in comparison to FDR. So, yes, politicians can still make those sorts of speeches in the right circumstances.

    GWB speech declaring war in terror.

    • #15
    • February 20, 2016 at 3:27 am
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  16. Member

    RyanM:FDR … he was respectful to congress…

    Yeah, that was tough. They were all Democrats. The 1937–1939 Congress was over 75% Democrats!

    FDR never had to deal with a Republican Speaker of the House or Republican Majority Leader. Actually, Obama hasn’t really either. The McConnell-Boehner surrender coalition (to all government shutdowns) has some of the highest percentages of Republicans in Congress since FDR, but that’s another story, I guess…

    • #16
    • February 20, 2016 at 3:40 am
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  17. Member

    James Of England:Bush, Rubio, … Graham… were all willing and able to give detailed foreign policy speeches that weren’t dumb.

    Of course, some of us consider speeches promoting an amnesty to be dumb — whether the speech is in Spanish or a Southern accent.

    Luis Gutiérrez might give a good foreign policy speech, but I would not listen to it.

    So there were two members of the Gang of 8 to run for president this year. I forget about Graham. Throw in John McCain from two cycles ago and Speaker of the House Paul “300,000 Muslim Visas” Ryan from last time and you’ve pretty much got the modern Republican-Corporatist Party establishment.

    “If the Republican establishment is so panicked about Donald Trump — a wild, proto-fascist egomaniac with his finger on the button, in their telling — you’d think it would do the one thing that would almost certainly stop him: Surrender. By ‘surrender’ I mean abandon their decades long dream of winning Latino votes through a magic pill called ‘comprehensive immigration reform’… It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s one thing Rove & Co. care about more than what they say would happen to their nation with Trump as Commander-in Chief. That is the end of their Amnesty Fantasy.” — Mickey Kaus

    • #17
    • February 20, 2016 at 4:05 am
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  18. Member

    I’m sick of all political speech. The speeches by JFK that I thought great at the time leave me cold now because we know where it all led. Same with FDR, it was a great and important speech but then he extended the depression by a decade and set us on the path we’ve been unable to free ourselves from. I don’t want soaring rhetoric, I just want to know whether the person understands a few basics and actually believes them. The exercise here seems to suggest they don’t mean any of it and may not understand even what they’re saying.

    • #18
    • February 20, 2016 at 4:13 am
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  19. Inactive

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    listeningin: Let’s elect this guy for president.

    This speech is even better. Watch all 17:25 minutes of it, and don’t miss the last seven minutes. Knowing that there are still Americans like this makes me feel better. Why can’t he run for president? Wouldn’t you sleep better at night with him in the White House? I would, and I only heard about him a half hour ago.

    “Knowing there are still Americans like this makes me feel better.”

    Yes…powerfully yes. Overwhelmingly more powerful than any annoyance at our current presidential race or fears of where the culture is going because unlike all that fluff and flab, this is real and brave, full of true, dignifying compassion…and can kick the bleep out of the other options toxifying our culture.

    Best quote from the first video (or close to a quote): “For those of you who don’t like what I just said, I have just one thing to say to you: I’M NOT HARD TO FIND.” Wow.

    Best quote from the second: “Don’t forget the cowboy in your blood.”

    • #19
    • February 20, 2016 at 4:17 am
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  20. Member

    Two points:
    1) Claire has found the best one-word description of the 2016 cycle: pukemaking.
    2) I’m amazed the US was able to survive at all, much less prevail in WWII after FDR displayed his obvious unfitness for office at the 2:22 mark of that video.

    • #20
    • February 20, 2016 at 5:05 am
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  21. Member

    The Cloaked Gaijin: … It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s one thing Rove & Co. care about more than what they say would happen to their nation with Trump as Commander-in Chief. That is the end of their Amnesty Fantasy.” — Mickey Kaus

    Needed repeating!

    • #21
    • February 20, 2016 at 5:07 am
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  22. Member

    This is news? Claire, have you been listening to any of their speeches? Of course that’s what they do. For one very simple reason. The voters want politicians who will promise things they can’t possibly deliver. That’s the politician they vote for, and that’s the politician they get angry at when he/she fails to deliver. We get the leaders we deserve.

    • #22
    • February 20, 2016 at 5:39 am
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  23. Moderator

    Randy Webster:

    RyanM: Trump pretends to, much like some liberal hollywood actor might pretend to be a conservative by putting on a southern accent and using the N-word.

    What? Is that your idea of southerners?

    But someone who sincerely believes in conservatism and will openly say those things that so many of us feel (in our daily lives and workplaces) that we sort of have to be hush-hush about?

    Fortunately, I work in a place where anyone with liberal views would be laughed out of the office. If anyone has them, they keep them to themselves.

    I believe Ryan was suggesting that is how Hollywood liberals think of Southerners and therefore that’s what the actors do to pretend they’re Southern. In much the same way that Trump appears to be a Stephen Colbertish parody of a conservative.

    • #23
    • February 20, 2016 at 5:56 am
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  24. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    Larry3435: The voters want politicians who will promise things they can’t possibly deliver.

    Yeah, but why don’t the voters want politicians who promise things they can’t deliver in a more seductive and convincing way? They sound like a guy saying, “My wife doesn’t understand me.” If they have to be sleazy, couldn’t they at least be genuinely seductive?

    • #24
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:02 am
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  25. Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Larry3435: The voters want politicians who will promise things they can’t possibly deliver.

    Yeah, but why don’t the voters want politicians who promise things they can’t deliver in a more seductive and convincing way? They sound like a guy saying, “My wife doesn’t understand me.” If they have to be sleazy, couldn’t they at least be genuinely seductive?

    I think that’s the appeal of Bernie. And perhaps of Trump. They both make their ridiculous promises with great conviction, which is somehow reassuring to their supporters, even when their supporters know they can’t deliver what they are promising.

    In the case of Cruz, though, I have always said that he is far too intelligent to get elected. He seems to find it genuinely difficult to tell these lies. He does it, but he does it very unconvincingly. He’s the guy who needs the stage directions in the margins.

    • #25
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:18 am
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  26. Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: You all know how baffled I’ve been by the insistence among all the Republican candidates that we don’t need to have a Syria policy, we just need a president who’s willing to say, “radical Islamic terrorism.” (Chop. Chop. Chop.) I truly didn’t get why saying that was supposed to help, but now I do. Their internal pollsters have figured out that those are winning words that make them sound principled and decisive. But heaven forfend the candidates feel obligated to pursue a specific policy once in office, particularly if they’ve been elected with a mandate to carry it out

    The problem is that almost everyone on the Republican side can agree that there is a problem with radical Islamic terrorism. The party is pretty divided (and perhaps in more than 2 ways) about what to do about it. It’s not simply empty tough talk. It’s also that a large chunk of Republicans will disagree with any particular course of action. We are largely papering over for campaign purposes the fact that the various factions of the Republican party do not have compatible agendas.

    • #26
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:25 am
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  27. Member

    Larry3435:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Yeah, but why don’t the voters want politicians who promise things they can’t deliver in a more seductive and convincing way? They sound like a guy saying, “My wife doesn’t understand me.” If they have to be sleazy, couldn’t they at least be genuinely seductive?

    I think that’s the appeal of Bernie. And perhaps of Trump. They both make their ridiculous promises with great conviction, which is somehow reassuring to their supporters, even when their supporters know they can’t deliver what they are promising.

    This is key to both their appeals. They both have supporters who know, intellectually, that they’re being lied to. But they feel they’ve been lied to for decades, and are excited about the fabulously FUN new lies these guys are telling. If you’re going to spew fantasies, why not make them GOOD fantasies?

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    The problem is that almost everyone on the Republican side can agree that there is a problem with radical Islamic terrorism. The party is pretty divided (and perhaps in more than 2 ways) about what to do about it.

    Agreed here, and also: don’t forget how quick things are changing on the ground. We can campaign against Assad now, but if he’s winning in Oct 2016, we’ll look dumb. Principles matter more than policy specifics at this stage, and these guys are trying to convince us of their principles.

    • #27
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:35 am
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  28. Contributor

    Quinn the Eskimo:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: You all know how baffled I’ve been by the insistence among all the Republican candidates that we don’t need to have a Syria policy, we just need a president who’s willing to say, “radical Islamic terrorism.” (Chop. Chop. Chop.) I truly didn’t get why saying that was supposed to help, but now I do. Their internal pollsters have figured out that those are winning words that make them sound principled and decisive. But heaven forfend the candidates feel obligated to pursue a specific policy once in office, particularly if they’ve been elected with a mandate to carry it out

    The problem is that almost everyone on the Republican side can agree that there is a problem with radical Islamic terrorism. The party is pretty divided (and perhaps in more than 2 ways) about what to do about it. It’s not simply empty tough talk. It’s also that a large chunk of Republicans will disagree with any particular course of action. We are largely papering over for campaign purposes the fact that the various factions of the Republican party do not have compatible agendas.

    Ricochet is as divided & could not probably come up with a consensus opinion, because neither faction will budge!

    • #28
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:35 am
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  29. Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: A lot has gone into this. Modern polling techniques have been a disaster — they’ve given a huge incentive to candidates to campaign and govern by opinion poll, rather than from principle and instinct.

    This strikes me in a very strong way.

    • #29
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:40 am
    • Like
  30. Member

    listeningin:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    listeningin: Let’s elect this guy for president.

    This speech is even better. Watch all 17:25 minutes of it, and don’t miss the last seven minutes. Knowing that there are still Americans like this makes me feel better. Why can’t he run for president? Wouldn’t you sleep better at night with him in the White House? I would, and I only heard about him a half hour ago.

    “Knowing there are still Americans like this makes me feel better.”

    Yes…powerfully yes. Overwhelmingly more powerful than any annoyance at our current presidential race or fears of where the culture is going because unlike all that fluff and flab, this is real and brave, full of true, dignifying compassion…and can kick the bleep out of the other options toxifying our culture.

    Best quote from the first video (or close to a quote): “For those of you who don’t like what I just said, I have just one thing to say to you: I’M NOT HARD TO FIND.” Wow.

    Best quote from the second: “Don’t forget the cowboy in your blood.”

    • #30
    • February 20, 2016 at 6:50 am
    • Like
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