Rhetoric and Reform

An entreaty in the Sunday paper — a veritable fireside editorial — is not the best way to communicate with the American public.  Years ago I read a New Yorker article illustrating that “red” America is absolutely coincident with “hog” country.  Both have similar holes for blue, non-hog cities in the middle of vast, red, rural tracts of farmers whose livelihoods rely most of all on globalization but vote for the guns platform.

Editorials are fantastic, but there is more to this country than the paternalistic arugula set.  What we’d like to see isn’t a plea for latte sippers’ forgiveness; we’d like results.  Unemployment was at 7.6% in January, and we’re now at 9.5%.  This is not the change I was hoping to see.

Rather than quote at length from Obama’s essay (hint: Help me help you!), here’s the money closer from Rove’s appeal:

While in Moscow recently, Mr. Obama answered questions on whether his administration had misread the economy by saying “there’s nothing that we would have done differently.” Let me suggest two things: He could have proposed pro-growth policies rather than ones that retard economic recovery with a massive increase in deficit spending. And he could fulfill his promise to speak to us honestly rather than selling his proposals with promises and goals he rapidly discards.

In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell wrote about words used in a “consciously dishonest way.” “That is,” Orwell wrote, “the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.” Americans are right to wonder if their president is using his own private definitions for the words he uses to sell his policies.


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