I'm having a lively private dialogue with a big-company speechwriter about, the quality of Mitt Romney's rhetoric. Essentially, he thinks it's passable, I think it's shit. He suspects that's because I'm a Democrat, I think it's because I'm a communication expert. And so on. The conversation is in good faith and is engerizing rather than energy-sapping so far, so I'm keeping it up.
But I had to send him a footnote:
A funny footnote to this whole discussion: My Republican dad was an adman—creative director at Campbell-Ewald, in Detroit. My Democrat mother was a writer—a novelist, but also a copywriter, working for my dad in the late sixties. George Romney was a friend of the agency’s president, and as a favor, the creatives worked on some speeches for him for his  presidential campaign, and helped him with his delivery. Guess who my Republican dad tapped to help? My Democrat mom.
How did she like that? I asked him once (after she died, alas). “How do you think she liked it?”
She was a little too blunt with George, and they took her off the job ….
And here we are—the Republican pragmatist and Democrat idealist inside me, talking to you about a presidential candidate named Romney—44 years later.
… boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past, etc.
As a communications consultant (or “someone who gets paid for the talky-talk thingy), I’m of the opinion that it’s nigh impossible for any of us to be really impressed anymore.
Today’s speeches aren’t written for Americans. They’re written for narrow interest groups, for undecideds, for journalists, for “the base,” or for some other niche. And I am no longer in any of those niches, so the deconstructionist in me tends to see the cynicism for what it is.
Politics isn’t inspiring anymore, period.
David Murray says
“Today’s speeches aren’t written for Americans. They’re written for narrow interest groups, for undecideds, for journalists, for ‘the base,’ or for some other niche. And I am no longer in any of those niches, so the deconstructionist in me tends to see the cynicism for what it is.”
This could be, for the editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, a sufficiently detailed suicide note. (And someday, that it may be.)
Except: Ike, how have you managed to entirely escape the world of the narrow interest groups? (Aside from the Deconstructionists Lobby to which you no doubt pay dues.)
And how have you achieved this outer-space world of “American”? Sincere American leaders and their speechwriters would love to know more about you, because they’d like to engage you in an interesting goddamn conversation.
David, I have escaped because I am a communicator at heart. I know the buttons that are being pushed, and recognize them when they are used toward me. I am the unalienated outsider.
Even when encountering those essays or speeches where I find myself vehemently frothing with agreement, I have disciplined myself to step out-of-body and examine the deeds of the speaker. (Words must follow deeds – Confucius)
It’s not easy, but I’ve been the cynic too long to take politicians at face value. Even the ones I might agree with.
I’d love to take you up on your offer of Interesting Conversation, because we’d have a blast.
David Murray says
You’re on, Ike. I’ve been meaning to read your blog more regularly for some time. Now I’m gonna start. The Conversation will occur naturally.