Friday, January 02, 2004

Blixa cringes... the sincerity shtick:

Blixa, at Warble Augur is an interesting and relatively new conservo-blogger. (Found via Micah Holmquist.)
(No connection to Blixa Bargeld, as far as I can tell...)

On December 19, apropo of Dubya's interview with Diane Sawyer (the one in which he said "what's the difference" when asked about WMDs and Sawyer responded by being taken aback and a bit flustered, but with no real follow-up), Blixa writes:

A Bush supporter and warble-augur such as myself has a problem: the man cannot speak well at all. This naturally helps his critics and raises obstacles for his supporters.

Further compounding the problem is that it's difficult to even begin to defend a man's words (even were I so inclined) if you don't know what they are. And how can I know what Bush's answers were to Diane Sawyer when even reading them, let alone listening to them, makes me cringe?

Oddly, it doesn't seem to affect my political support for his Presidency or his actions in any way. This confounds people because in the (scant) circles in which I move, it is just accepted that a President at the very minimum ought to be eloquent, silver-tongued, and possessed of great debating skill. Indeed, at times it seems as if it is primarily Bush's lack of such traits, and not his actual policy per se, which so raises the ire of the intelligentsia. Moreover, it is taken as a given that political debates and policy positions are subject to verbal proofs and analysis; if Bush's words to Diane Sawyer about the Iraq war are clumsy or don't add up, then it therefore follows that the Iraq war was wrong, QED. Why don't people see that??

How can such a man, of so little rhetorical skill, be President? It threatens the vision of meritocracy which was implicitly promised to all the bright kids in their school years, years of gold stars and four-point-ohs. Indeed the more I think about it, the easier it is to understand how for such a man to be President can cause certain people great pain, and why this pain translates into a kind of hatred which appears, at times, pathological. Bush's very existence in the Oval Office shatters a fairy tale.

First, it is refreshing to see a right wing blogger acknowledge the difficulty many of us have with the dubya lexicon. Nevertheless there are several things that give me pause here, not the least of which is "it is taken as a given that political debates and policy positions are subject to verbal proofs and analysis", and the implicit suggestion that there's something wrong with wanting policy positions that hold up to the scrutiny of "verbal proofs and analysis."(?!)

Never mind, for now, the fact that Blixa glides past the meritocratic question and fails to acknowledge that many resent the fact that GW Bush is an undeserving underachiever with a pedigree and connections that have gotten him to where he is today. What I dislike about the president's verbal clumsiness is not the clumsiness itself (as I recognize that it is possible to think and understand things clearly yet be a poor verbal communicator-- and although I think the president is hostile to intellectualism I don't think he's stupid), but the fact that he uses his clumsiness in making arguments as a sort of sincerity "shtick", meta-communicating the underlying argument that his presumptive sincerity trumps logical argument, that if you don't appreciate that he's more sincere than his detractors and you're not on his side, then you must be one of those mean, unpatriotic no-goodniks who prefer godless logic. Come to think of it, at a certain level he is pretty slick...