Eloquence, Obama and Me

In the last couple of days, I’ve had about three people compliment me on the “eloquence” of my blog posts relating to this year’s election. I have been rather flattered by these compliments. Last night, though, John McCain employed an old GOP-candidate trick: Take something complimentary and turn it into something to be sneered at.

McCain made several references to Obama’s “eloquence.” And Obama does have an eloquent way of speaking: Using illustrative words to express ideas. I like it. But McCain was using a subtle tactic that has been employed quite frequently in recent years when discussing liberals. He took a complimentary term and made it something undesirable.

For some reason, in recent years, characteristics that used to be aspired to have been turned around and belittled:

  • Education (derided as “intellectualism”)
  • Desire to reach the pinnacle of excellence (sneered at as “elitism”)

And, of course, these terms are applied to hoity-toity liberals by humble, just-like-you-and-me conservatives. Is the ability to express oneself well (which McCain dismissed as mere “eloquence”) the next “inellectual”? The next “elite”?

What bothers me even more is that there are plenty of conservatives that are educated, eloquent and elite. But they would never want to present themselves as such. Because it makes them appear “out of touch” with the “common” person. Indeed, the whole point of the tactic is to draw notice from the fact that many of the candidates from the conservative side are just what they deride in liberal side.

But why don’t we like these characteristics any more? Respected figures in American history, from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson to Abrahama Lincoln to FDR were educated, well-spoken and achieved prestige in various fields. Would we not vote for Washington or Jefferson because they were “elites” who expressed themselves with “eloquence”? (Now Jefferson would be lambasted for his Deist views as not being Christian enough, so maybe he’s a bad example.)

At any rate, I am sad to see yet another complimentary characteristic turned around and made into something derogatory.

8 thoughts on “Eloquence, Obama and Me”

  1. THANKS FOR THE POST! Yet again, I have been thinking the same thing when I have heard bits of the media, political commentators and people on the GOP side say those comments about Obama. For my part, (aside from the issues) I don’t want some straight-talker, everyday Joe to be my president. I don’t mind an intelligent person who can speak with eloquence. This person is going to represent our country to other countries all over the world. I have already had years of embarrassment from Bush. Its the most important office you can hold in our country – shouldn’t it be reserved for the best!!

  2. You are seriously my best cheerleader. Thanks! I don’t mind the straight talk so much as what’s being said. Obama does tell it straight up a lot of the time. But sometimes he brings in some slightly different vocabulary and people start to lose interest when he starts giving details and facts. Which is too bad. Because I’ll take the facts and a plan over some “zinger” any day.

  3. You are one brave woman to be posting this in a conservative society. I commend you and wish I had the balls (err, the guts, sorry) to do it too. But alas, I am too scared of what my friends, and FAMILY would say. I shall live vicariously through you. Thank you for posting what you post. Gives me hope 🙂

  4. Thanks @TheSmiths! I love the fortification I receive. I guess I’ve kind of lucked out in that my family (though conservative) knows that I’m the liberal black sheep crazy. So they expect it. Besides, two of the in-laws, who are around my age, and normally conservative, are voting for Obama this go. Which eases things a bit for me. Most of my ward has no idea what I do, and they don’t read my blog. Which is good, since I’m not sure that they’d let me stay in the primary knowing who’s teaching their children…

    Nice to see you Kanaboke! Hope things are going well on your end. McCain is starting to look a little desperate. Which is too bad. I used to really like him…

  5. I’ve been wondering about that myself. Since when did being well spoken and well educated become “uncool” with conservatives? So if you are a conservative, you have to be just “plain simple folks?” What? I just don’t get it….and….it makes me kind of sad.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Mary Alice. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with being plain and simple, I also don’t think there is call to be dismissive of someone just because of their education.

    Another thing that bothers me is that the conservatives who so often raise these “charges” are far from being “plain simple folks” themselves. Often, they have advanced degrees and make rather large amounts of money. But they pretend to be something else. And it works. How many people really stop to think about G.W.B.’s background? Millions of dollars to play around with, Ivy League education, powerful friends.

    And that was before he became president.

  7. No matter what others say, I think it is still interesting and useful maybe necessary to improve some minor things

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top