Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Leaders", "Political Rhetoric" and USA Today

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There was a letter to the editor of USA Today today, that was mildly interesting (not interesting enough for you to go out and actually purchase the paper!), from some guy, whose name I won't mention, since he is obviously quite enough of an embarrassment to his mother, who took exception to a Cal Thomas editorial which apparently, compared violent TV shows to "violent" political rhetoric. I didn't read the editorial in question, but listen to this except from today's letter:

"Violent TV shows are a form of entertainment and don't really have any long-lasting effects on the public at large."
Oh, really? I can remember certain episodes of The Rifleman and Have Gun, Will Travel as if they'd aired yesterday. That's a pretty long time ago, for not having any "long-lasting effects".
And there was a film they showed at a parent/teacher conference when I was about six that scared the beejeebus out of me. Oh, yeah. Violent imagery is nothing like political rhetoric!

Now listen to this next rambling sentence in search of a thought:
"However, political rhetoric comes from our nation's leaders, who have been entrusted with the responsibility to give us facts, not empty language."
"Empty language"? You mean like "Hope and Change"? Note to the Irony Impaired: Have you ever seen any language as empty as that sentence?

This guy thinks that if one of our "leaders" proclaims something, that it somehow takes on more believability or impact than a dramatically created image on TV or in the movies? And whether or not it is their responsibility to give us "facts", look at what they've given us! Barack Obama may have given us more empty promises in his campaign than any previous president. And, as far as being "entrusted", Sarah Palin is currently an Alaskan housewife. Does that mean her rhetoric is not political or that because she is not our "leader" she has no "responsibility" to give us facts? That lets her off the hook for a lot then, doesn't it?

No. In fact, political rhetoric is not the exclusive purview of "leaders", elected or otherwise, but also those that are supposedly being led. It is a dialogue, not a monologue, no matter what Obama's teleprompter might be telling him. And how would a "non-leader" ever become a "leader" without political rhetoric?

Political rhetoric is the cry of the powerless as well as the powerful. And in some Utopian world, our politicians might give us nothing but facts, here on planet Earth, our politicians often lie to us. Other times they may be merely mistaken. But, to say that my statement, if I believe that Senator Foghorn's policies are so bad for the country he "should be horse whipped", has a longer lasting effect on society than say a Quentin Tarantino movie, you'd be quite mistaken.

And would anyone think for a moment that I literally meant for Senator Foghorn to be horse whipped? Hardly.

"Politicians are our leaders and they should be mature enough to have informed honest discussions and debates without the rhetoric."

First of all, stop laughing. And maybe I should have started out with this, I don't know about you, but I don't have any "leader". I am a citizen, not a subject. I think for myself and stay informed, so that I can make good , well informed decisions for myself. As far as the country goes, the guy currently warming the chair in the Oval Office is a community organizer, not a leader. And I, for one, refuse to be "organized". At least, not according to his model.

True leaders have a moral authority that comes from inner character. Honesty is part of that inner character. Something sadly lacking in the present administration. Next is a shared vision. A leader inspires people to follow, he doesn't need to use coercion. Unless, he is a dictator. (See: bad leader)

"Debates without rhetoric" is like asking for speech without words. There is good rhetoric and bad, factual and dishonest, inflammatory and calming. It's the people who wield the rhetoric that need to be held accountable for what they say, more so than how they said it.

But please! A call to repeal legislation that is "killing" jobs is descriptive. If the legislation were merely "mildly annoying" the creation of jobs, then why repeal it? "Target" politicians for defeat at the polls? You betcha! Only a moron or a liberal pundit (but I repeat myself) would confuse this with actual violence.

A culture of death has coarsened the nature of our society. A little hyperbole in political discourse will not bring down the Republic. Pussyfooting around the real issues might.

Cross posted at Left Coast Rebel

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