Tag: rhetoric

Conservatism & Progress: A Tale of Two Commencement Speeches

 

If you’re looking to learn rhetoric, I’m your huckleberry. Here’s a comparison of the varieties of rhetoric in American politics–two speeches by men who are and were respectively senators. Each talk is about the same length — seven minutes and change is a short speech — and with the same purpose, apparently, to congratulate and exhort America’s callow youth. Sen. Sasse of Nebraska is first. He gave this speech, which is alright, not very good, the sort of mediocrity we expect in politics and celebrity culture, broadly speaking. He seems to be a good man, wears his successes lightly, and he’s handsome, so it’s likely to go over well:

Boris Johnson Speaks, and It Isn’t All Greek to Me

 

On Christmas Eve, Powerline Blog pointed to Boris Johnson reciting a long passage from the Iliad, in ancient Greek, not as a schoolboy might, but as the great storyteller. This should not have been much of a surprise, given other appearances over the past few years by the man who is now Prime Minister. What follows is a Boris Johnson starter sampler.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson turned to reciting the Iliad in the course of a conversation with the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Annabel Crabb at the Melbourne Writers Festival this past July.

Member Post

 

Reading an editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week (How San Francisco is Killing Its Restaurants, October 17) I found myself thinking that the author seems to assume that everyone agrees that more restaurants is an inherently good thing. [The editorial may be behind a paywall.] What if a person whom the author is […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

Once again the country has found itself reeling from mass shootings, this time two in a matter of hours. (Wait a minute, hold everything.  It must be stipulated right up front that we aren’t going to count the multiple shootings and murders that occur with numbing regularity in Chicago, Baltimore and virtually every other large, […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

Has anyone else noticed that some liberals, when advocating for yet another government program or ratcheting up of the progressivity of the income tax, act as though the status quo is some kind of Randian or anarco-capitalist economy with low, flat taxes? As if they’re making the case for a change from treating everyone equally […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

The Panoramic Overton Window

 

What shape is your Overton Window? Is it tall and narrow, or low and broad? That is, what range of ideas are you willing to tolerate in public discourse? And how high are you willing to pile the rhetoric? Joseph P Overton, who worked for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, believed the realm of political ideas wasn’t limited so much by individuals’ interests as it was by a window of public discourse, where ideas at either end of the window were considered radical, and ideas falling outside the window (too “left” or “right”, assuming limiting ideas to a one-dimensional spectrum makes sense) were considered unthinkable, hence unmentionable. This window of discourse, usually thought of in just one dimension, was named after him — the Overton Window.

I discern two dimensions to the Overton Window, though, both width and height. It takes effort to maintain a big Overton Window, whether the window is unusually broad (breadth of ideas) or unusually tall (how high do people ratchet up the rhetoric?). Mere mortals, it seems, struggle to maintain expansiveness in both dimensions. Recently, Ricochet Member @steverosenbach wrote a post asking the Ricoverse for the names of honorable pundits on the left. One often-cited name was that of Scott Alexander, who runs the blog Slate Star Codex (SSC). Truth be told, Scott is not very far left (probably one reason so many of us find him palatable); moreover, Scott is sympathetic to much of the backlash against trends in leftist thought. Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Slate Star Codex, though, is that its Overton Window is panoramic.

Want to Write Well? Get Anglo-Saxon with It.

 

William Zinsser writes about the Latin, Norman, and Anglo-Saxon version of some words. When you need some information you can simply ask. If you want to be fancy you can pose a question. But only the truly sophisticated will interrogate.

Boris below observes the genius behind Churchill’s style is in moving between these different variations at the right moment. When Churchill really wants to grab the audience and make a memorable point he goes to the pre-Norman, Anglo-Saxon vocabulary that they know. Zinsser would approve as he advises us to cut out the clutter and get simple with word usage to produce great writing.

Member Post

 

In his post http://ricochet.com/respectable-positions-on-trump/ St. Augustine mentions “Trump’s promises to intentionally target civilians in the war on terror.” as a reason to not vote for him. Others have reacted to similar over-the-top remarks by Trump pertaining to illegal Mexican immigration, as well as his promises to make Mexico pay for the wall, save Medicare, Medicaid […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

A central – perhaps *the* central idea of Marxism – is that “History” has laws, which are in principle discoverable. Marx claimed to have discovered them. He insisted that future “History”  – the general shape of events – could in principle be foreseen,  no less than the past is discernible from records. “The wrong side of history”, is […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

Bonehead Random Reporter:  Do you seriously believe that gay marriage is a threat to mainstream Christianity? Sen. Marco Rubio:  Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee  for President has said that people are going to have to change their deep-seated religious beliefs.  The are people out there who think you should lose your business for refusing […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

One thing worth sharing this week that couldn’t fit on Twitter was this story from Pakistani-administered Kashmir: “”She said ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I won’t look again.’ By then I had already thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way.”Anusha’s father is reported to have taken his daughter inside, beaten […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

In a nutshell, ask your opponent to explain in detail how their idea would work in practice, step-by-step. Since most people cannot do that, their confidence in the idea itself is subsequently weakened: Recruiting a sample of Americans via the internet, they polled participants on a set of contentious US policy issues, such as imposing […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.