Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quickies: “Applause Lines”

     The above term usually means a provocative line deliberately placed in an oral statement to elicit applause. Politicians’ speechwriters are noted for using them, as PolSpeak® has become so bereft of direct and comprehensible statements that the hoi polloi simply must be thrown some “red meat” now and then, if only to remind them to stay awake. However, when an applause line misfires, it can do considerable damage to the speaker.

     No doubt this one struck her as a neat sally at the time:

     Asked which enemy she was most proud of making during Tuesday night’s debate, Hillary replied, “Well, in addition to the NRA, the drug companies, the insurance companies, the Iranians, um, probably the Republicans.” This brought cheers from the audience and was lauded by Rachel Maddow as a solid approach.

     Did Mrs. Clinton reflect even for an instant over the inevitable difficulties a Democrat in the White House would face after alienating a wholly Republican-controlled Congress? Probably not; she’s simply not that bright. Her husband is the gifted political operator; Hillary’s instincts tend toward insult, condescension, and vilification, techniques not known to evoke warm feelings from the electorate.

     The Left’s inclinations have always been thus. However, Mrs. Clinton is in the process of being outflanked on her left by Bernie Sanders. Perhaps she felt her applause line would get some of Sanders’s admirers, who deem anyone to the right of Obama to be Satan incarnate, to consider her afresh. I doubt it; leftists tend not to go by your rhetoric but by how many freebies you’ve pledged to give them.

     The nomination contests on both sides have been well distant from the norm for postwar election years. Virtually every aspirant on either side has made one or more incautious remarks for which he’ll eventually be called to account. Whether those remarks were on advice from political strategists or speechwriters, or they were impromptu gaffes the responsibility for which lies wholly with the candidate, it’s the candidate who emitted them who’ll bear the burden from them. Perhaps that’s 2015’s version of a political “level playing field.”

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