It’s all about words, words, words

Hillary Clinton did it, now John McCain are doing it too: expressing a disdain for Barack Obama’s command of language. James Wood has a piece in this week’s New Yorker about use of the Republicans’ use of language, which concludes: 

. . . when [Palin] was asked about Obama’s attack on McCain’s claim that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. “Well,” Palin said, “it was an unfair attack on the verbage that Senator McCain chose to use, because the fundamentals, as he was having to explain afterwards, he means our workforce, he means the ingenuity of the American people. And of course that is strong, and that is the foundation of our economy. So that was an unfair attack there, again, based on verbage that John McCain used.” This is certainly doing rather than mere talking, and what is being done is the coinage of “verbage.” It would be hard to find a better example of the Republican disdain for words than that remarkable term, so close to garbage, so far from language.

This reminded me of an interview with former JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen that appeared in the New York Times Magazine earlier this year. In it, Sorensen cites the power of “Kennedy’s rhetoric when he was president [which] turned out to be a key to his success. His mere words about Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba helped resolve the worst crisis the world has ever known without the U.S. having to fire a shot.”

Obama’s deputy speechwriter Adam Frankel worked with Sorensen on his memoir, and Sorensen himself has lent his hand to the Obama campaign.

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