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Monday, July 18, 2005

Politics and the English Language

Before the first debate of the 2004 Presidential campaign, I brashly predicted that Bush would wipe the floor with Kerry. Not because Bush was smarter and certainly not because of his command of the English language. Bush - and Republicans in general - are better at public speaking. I thought Bush would stick to a few main points and back them up with simple arguments. It's hard to argue against "freedom" and "democracy" and "security," and as long as Bush stuck to saying these were great, Kerry would look like he was arguing that "spreading freedom" was bad - never mind that the phrase actually means "going to war thousands of miles away for the indefinite future." Bush was better at forcing names upon things that defined how people thought about them. Kerry couldn't put together a clear sentence if you spotted him a subject, object and a verb. Of course, Bush couldn't keep his foot out of his mouth, and Kerry walked away with that debate. But I still stand by my assessment. And according to this New York Times article, the Democratic Party does too, almost to a fault: The Framing Wars Of course, no matter how clearly the Democrats learn to speak, they still have to have something to say. Just like clear writing, strong and effective speaking starts with good, precise ideas. And the Democrats need to figure out what those ideas are. There are hundreds of reasons why Bush and the Republican party is bad, but right now that means squat.

I'm James Sulak, a software developer in Houston, Texas.

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