Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fishing for a Great Communicator . . . Sort of

In "The Candidates, Seen From the Classroom", Stanley Fish reports that by a vote of 13-2 his freshman writing class believes President Bush communicates his ideas better than Senator Kerry. Fish told his students, "Put aside whatever preferences you might have for either candidate’s positions . . . just tell me who does a better job of articulating his positions, and why." One student said of Kerry, "He’s kind of ’skippy,’ all over the place." Kind of reminds you of his policy positions.

To the objection, "Doesn’t Mr. Bush’s directness and simplicity of presentation reflect a simplicity of mind and an incapacity for nuance, while Mr. Kerry’s ideas are just too complicated for the rhythms of publicly accessible prose?" Fish replies,

Sorry, but that’s dead wrong. If you can’t explain an idea or a policy plainly in one or two sentences, it’s not yours; and if it’s not yours, no one you speak to will be persuaded of it, or even know what it is, or (and this is the real point) know what you are.

Fish still intends to vote for the Great Obfuscator, but he for one is not hopeful that the coming presidential debates will help Kerry rebound from his plummeting poll numbers.

Discussions - 2 Comments

When my students read the NYU Iraq speech, they had a hard time figuring out what JFK would do differently.

I once heard someone described as being a fortress built around a vacuum. Might that be a fair characterization of the Democratic nominee?

There’s that old saying, "If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with BS".

I’m baffled..

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