Can Bush Speak?

Avatar for murielm99
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Can Bush Speak?
4
Fri, 08-08-2003 - 7:29am
Many people criticize Bush as a speaker. They say he does not know how to use the English language. While I have always felt that Kennedy and Reagan were the two best Presidential speakers of my lifetime, I did not think Bush was that bad. However, I did feel vaguely uneasy about the way Bush used his speeches as a political tool.

The first time I felt uneasy was when he displayed such arrogance during the first days of the disputed election, before he stole the Presidency. He expressed such a sense of entitlement, such outrage that anyone would dare dispute the heir apparent! Okay -- all politicians are arrogant. But as I listened further, as his Presidency progressed, I noticed other things: his speech patterns, the types of emotions he tried to evoke, all seemed designed to create sorrow and guilt if you did not agree with him completely. He seemed like a preacher, or a father, sorrowing over our sins.

I was startled to discover that Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist, has also been concerned about Bush's speechmaking. Dr. Brooks heads the Sommet Institute for the Study of Power and Persuasion. Dr. Brooks has discovered that Bush uses dependency-creating language, that he tries to shame others, with contempt and intimidation, into submission and dependence. His language is the language of the verbal abuser!



One of the techniques Bush uses is called empty language. This means that he uses broad statements that are abstract and mean little. They are almost impossible to analyze and oppose. For example, instead of explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and increasing health care costs, Bush says, "No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit." Or, instead of giving giving concrete reasons for waging war on Iraq, Bush says, "We will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people." Verbal abusers, too, use empty language, to make others seem beneath contempt, and to rename and belittle their opinions.

Another technique Bush uses is personalization. He projects himself as the only person who can get the job done. He says, "I will not forget this wound on our country, and who inflicted it." Or, "I will defend the freedom and security of the American people." Compare this to Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Dr. Brooks finds that the word "you" seldom appears in Bush's speeches. Like abusers, he creates dependency.

Bush also uses a technique called negative framework. He borrows this technique from advertisers and hypnotists to create the image of a dark and dangerous world around us, so that we will be in fear, and respond with something psychologist Martin Seligman calls "learned helplessness." Contrast this with Franklin Roosevelt, who, when we were fighting for our survival, said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Or, compare it to Reagan, who said, in explanation of the crisis in Lebanon, "Where do we go from here? What can we do to help Lebanon gain greater stability, so that our marines can come home?"

In my opinion, Bush also resorts to character assination, like McCarthy. If you dare to disagree with him, your are labelled unAmerican. Bush uses the language of the abuser. He, like abusers, has isolated our country from its' traditional allies, with his crackpot imperialism and agression in Iraq. He has battered our economy and our environment. It is time to stop the abuse, and elect a better President.

You can learn more about Dr. Brooks at www.sommetinstitute.org.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: murielm99
Fri, 08-08-2003 - 8:30am
I'm not old enough to remember Kennedy! I do agree about Reagan! President Reagan could always persuade his audience to see his point of view! He was a great speaker!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
In reply to: murielm99
Fri, 08-08-2003 - 1:26pm
Never underestimate the power of great speech making. Speech making has always been a tool of politicians however, the speeches themselves can sometimes give us insight into the type of man giving them.

Some great speakers, from "before your time".

Excerpt from Kennedy's Peace Core address

http://www.cs.umb.edu/jfklibrary/jfk_peace_corps.html

<

In establishing our Peace Corps we intend to make full use of the resources and talents of private institutions and groups. Universities, voluntary agencies, labor unions and industry will be asked to share in this effort--contributing diverse sources of energy and imagination--making it clear that the responsibility for peace is the responsibility of our entire society.

We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country--who have a real job to do--and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.>>

----------------------------

I know the next one probably isn't of interest to many here, but this is an exerpt from my favourite political speaker of all time. He was our Prime Minister for 14 years and love him or hate him, his vision for Canada seems to have resonated with us. The funny thing was, he didn't care if he was Prime Minister or not. He had a vision and if the people elected him he would carry it out, if not "C'est la vie." He never pandered to anyone, he brought them up to his level.

<

-- Fear of becoming vulnerable by opening one's arms to other Canadians who speak a different language or live in a different culture.

-- Fear of becoming poorer by agreeing to share one's resources and wealth with fellow citizens living in regions less favoured by nature.

The Canada we are building lies beyond the horizon of such fears. Yet it is not, for all that, an unreal country, forgetful of the hearts of men and women. We know that justice and generosity can flourish only in an atmosphere of trust.

For if individuals and minorities do not feel protected against the possibility of the tyranny of the majority, if French-speaking Canadians or native peoples or new Canadians do not feel they will be treated with justice, it is useless to ask them to open their hearts and minds to their fellow Canadians.

Similarly, if provinces feel that their sovereign rights are not secure in those fields in which they have full constitutional jurisdiction, it is useless to preach to them about co-operation and sharing.

The Constitution which is being proclaimed today goes a long way toward removing the reasons for the fears of which I have spoken.

We now have a Charter which defines the kind of country in which we wish to live, and guarantees the basic rights and freedoms which each of us shall enjoy as a citizen of Canada.

It reinforces the protection offered to French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec, and to English-speaking Canadians in Quebec. It recognizes our multicultural character. It upholds the equality of women, and the rights of disabled persons.

The Constitution confirms the longstanding division of powers among governments in Canada, and even strengthens provincial jurisdiction over natural resources and property rights. It entrenches the principle of equalization, thus helping less wealthy provinces to discharge their obligations without excessive taxation. It offers a way to meet the legitimate demands of our native peoples. And, of course, by its amending formula, it now permits us to complete the task of constitutional renewal in Canada.>>

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
In reply to: murielm99
Fri, 08-08-2003 - 1:46pm
...and the answer to that question is....yes. Not for very long, but yes.

Then it gets pretty one-dimensional, pretty quick.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: murielm99
Sat, 08-09-2003 - 2:43pm
While I only have seen some of JFK's speeches on tape, Reagan has many of the same characteristics when he would speak to a gathering. He would make everyone listening to him feel as though he were speaking directly to them, and about their concerns.

He had charisma, charm, and spoke like he was an expert on the topic of discussion. He also always spoke with a deep passion as if the topic were the most important thing to him.