Although this blog steadfastly keeps away from politics, that does not prevent commenting on a great partisan’s speech from a purely literary, couch-potato perspective. This is especially true if the speech was a masterpiece, probably destined for history. The speech former President Bill Clinton made to the Democratic Convention last week was one of that kind.
A tremendous hit, it makes one wonder: Will it reverse old ideas and begin a new era? Will it be studied and memorized by students in the decades to come ?Here are seven reasons why I think it’s built from the stuff of potential greatness:
- Humor (Irony) It was so humorous that cheers, laughter and applause erupted from the crowd 132 times in 48 minutes. (Recorded in the New York Times transcript). Example: “Every politician wants every voter to believe he (the politician) was born in a log cabin he built himself.” (Clinton attributed this quote to Robert Strauss, DNC chair, 1972-77)
- Content (Solid Research) The speech is full of facts, all checked out and found by a number of news organizations to be truthful. Only some phrasing was disputed. (FactCheck.org) Example: “Since 1961, the Republicans held the White House for 28 years, the Democrats for 24. In those 52 years, our private economy produced 66 million jobs in the private sector — Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42”.
- Personification: Arithmetic As a Hero Readers and audiences love a personal touch. Example: “People ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”
- Logical Theme This is the most fundamental debating technique. Example: “The argument in Tampa went something like, We left him a terrible mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”
- Figures of Speech (Contrast, Parallel Structure, Onomatopoeia) These profound yet easy phrases show off Clinton’s great writing talents. Examples: “Obama is a man who is cool on the outside but burns for America on the inside.” ” Republicans will double down on trickle down.”
- Historical Setting, Description Everyone can relate to reality. Example: “People have predicted our demise ever since George Washington was criticized for being a mediocre surveyor with a bad set of wooden false teeth.”
- Summation (Challenge) Two contrasting dreams or visions of the future are put into a nutshell so folks are moved to choose and act. Example: “We believe that ‘We’re in this together’ is a far better philosophy than ‘You’re on your own'”.
To watch President Clinton’s speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzDhk3BHi6Q
To read a fact-check article: http://factcheck.org/2012/09/our-clinton-nightmare/
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