Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rhetorical Guide for the Political Season

Be looking for the following good and bad uses of speech and rhetoric.  Find Waldo in every speech and advertisement.  P.S. All the candidates are "he's" this time, thus the "he's" below.
Straight talk: Words being used in their normal ways.  Candidate means what he says.

Figurative speech: Words being used in a less than literal way.  Comparisons are being made to say such and such is like something else.

Hyperbole/Overstatement: Making the point by over-making the point, exaggerating to make the point

Understatement: Making the point by stating things much more modestly than they actually are

Humor: Making a joke, often one that makes fun of an opponent, either in good fun or as an attack

Irony: When something said has a second meaning that in some way intersects curiously with the primary meaning, often unintended. One example is when you say the exact opposite of what you mean

Sarcasm: a jab or cutting remark, often through irony or understatement

Disagreement: Sometimes candidates just flat disagree.  They just have an honest difference of conclusion or interpretation.

Misplaced blame: Blaming the wrong party for something

Misrepresentation: When a candidate knows that what he's saying is misleading or skews the actual facts, often intentionally but can also happen unintentionally

Glaring omission: Some fact or information omitted that would significantly change the basic impression

Hypocrisy: When a candidate criticizes another candidate for something he actually believes or did himself

Flat-out Lie: When a candidate looks you straight in the eye and tells you something he knows isn't true.

Some Fallacies to look for:

Fallacy of Diversion: Where you change the subject or the issue

Circular Reasoning: Where your conclusion is part of your argument

Appeal to emotion: Where you get the audience's emotions stirred up and pretend that's an argument

Appeal to improper authority: When you treat someone as an expert who isn't

Attack the person: Where you don't actually attack a position but the person with the position

After this, because of this: When you assume that something that came before something else is the cause

False Alternative: When you present something as an either/or that isn't, when there's a third alternative


John C. Gardner said...

This is a good guide which I shared with my wife today.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks for these helpful, and humorous, thoughts Ken. I just posted an article on my blog called "Christians and Politics: Lord Help!" that intersects with some of your thoughts. Here is the link: