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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Friday, February 29, 2008

Words Fitly Spoken: Part II

What Makes People Want To Listen?

It's early in the morning of that strange glitch in time we call Leap Day, February 29. I have a friend who was born on this day. I suppose that feels a little bit like being the part of the song on a scratched vinyl record that skips nearly every time it's played. Anyway...
Happy Leap Day!

Some friends who read at POI but don't comment are wondering where I’m going with all this talk about Obama. “Tom, don’t tell me you’re jumping on the bandwagon, too!” They feel compelled to remind me that Obama has the most liberal voting record in the senate, that there's no way he can pay for all his promises, and that he has connections with some pretty questionable characters. None of which (so far) has garnered much attention, and if and when it does, it may not matter to the bandwagon.

At this moment in the primaries, the bandwagon consists of roughly 25% of the electorate, but with each passing day, an ever-stronger breeze billows Obama's sail while his opponent’s ship, sails slack, sits in the distant doldrums. If it becomes clear that Barack’s ship has come in; if Oprah's prophecy comes to pass and "he is the one"; if upcoming state events knock Hillary out of the race and Obama becomes the Democratic nominee; his support will presumably double overnight.

Some may be saying, “Tom, not so fast. Hilary can still pull off this hat trick.” If so, that change of fortunes will be equally amazing. Likewise if McCain, whose future seems more dependent on underlying currents than winds of change, can somehow keep pace with the Democratic nominee, that too will be a fascinating story.

So regardless of who you support at the moment, there’s no denying that we are about to witness a political phenomenon unlike anything in recent memory, and in many ways it may boil down to which candidate makes best use of
words fitly spoken.

Students of rhetoric are familiar with Aristotle’s three elements of persuasion: ETHOS, PATHOS, AND LOGOS.

Part II is about ETHOS, from which we get the word Ethics. ETHOS goes much deeper than personality. It is that intangible quality in a person that causes listeners to believe that the speaker's character, knowledge, and judgment is worthy of respect. It's the degree to which an audience believes that the person they are listening to acts the same when "no one is looking." If a speaker comes across as contrived or put on, listeners will conclude that the worst observations are the most accurate reflection of the person's ETHOS.

I don't mean to pick on Hillary, but ETHOS has been the basic problem with both her and Bill for much of their political careers. Op-Ed Columnist MAUREEN DOWD said two days ago:

"The fact that Obama is exceptionally easy in his skin has made Hillary almost jump out of hers. She can’t turn on her own charm and wit because she can’t get beyond what she sees as the deep injustice of Obama not waiting his turn. Her sunshine-colored jackets on the trail hardly disguise the fact that she’s pea-green with envy. After saying she found her “voice” in New Hampshire, she has turned into Sybil. We’ve had Experienced Hillary, Soft Hillary, Hard Hillary, Misty Hillary, Sarcastic Hillary, Joined-at-the-Hip-to-Bill Hillary, Her-Own-Person-Who-Just-Happens-to-Be-Married-to-a-Former-President Hillary, It’s-My-Turn Hillary, Cuddly Hillary, Let’s-Get-Down-in-the-Dirt-and-Fight-Like-Dogs Hillary....If she can only change this or that about her persona, or tear down this or that about Obama’s. But the whirlwind of changes and charges gets wearing. By threatening to throw the kitchen sink at Obama, the Clinton campaign simply confirmed the fact that they might be going down the drain."
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Here's how Slate on Youtube illustrate the point:
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Some may cry "unfair!" But fair or not, since the on-screen ethos of Hillary is ever-changing and hostile under pressure, the public tends to believe the reports of what Hillary is like behind closed doors.

Likewise, if the race is eventually between Obama and McCain (who has his own ethos and authenticity issues), the ETHOS, attitude, and personality contrast between them may be as stark as the following Youtube contributions: We've already seen the original video of "Yes We Can" derived from Obama's speech.

Well, here's the one called "No You Can't" derived from McCain lines.

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There is so much more to say about ETHOS, but alas Pathos and Logos are waiting in the wings. I will be working on the Thailand video for the next few days, so it will be a while before I can post Part III .

[Bob sent me this animated Walt Handelsman cartoon Friday PM.]

9 Comments:

Blogger Dr.John said...

I like Obama. I feel good about Obama. I am scared to death of Obama. I believe he means what he says. I am afraid of the mess he will make of our economy and our country.
I am afraid of his sincere beliefs.

29/2/08 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never been terribly "political"...as a young person it didn't interest me and as I got older it felt like even if I was interested there wasn't a whole lot I could do about anything anyway. Do I sound complacient---I hope not! I love my country and I do vote and in these later years I try to pay attention and follow who I think can "do the job"!! BUT this time I feel REALLY like nothing I can do would make a difference at all and that the "powers that be" are WAY too powerful. However if I go to scripture it will say that God places those in power and nothing escapes Him. I'm really loosely paraphrasing here.
Who will I vote for this election?? Heaven only knows! I echo so many people that I know that "if" I could take one or two qualities from each of the individuals (and this was a few weeks ago) and form it into a person of my own making---that's who I'd vote for!
Character is a HUGE thing that I would look at in a leader...this being said, this would veto out the Clinton's (either one) as their track record doesn't display this well. I don't "know" Obama, except by how his media pundants portray him. As for McCain...well I just don't know!! It is a scarey time! Our country has been on a slippery slope for sometime due to many other things. It's said that any society that has failed implodes from within.
WSL

29/2/08 4:56 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
Your terse comment speaks volumes. I know what you mean. I am fascinated at his adroit skills with a crowd and at deflecting the incoming kitchen sink from you know who, but as I consider what his grassroots, bandwagon empowerment may lead to... it makes the word change scary. I hope there is less "unknown" about him in six months than there is right now.

WSL,
In the conclusion of this series I plan to mention the passage you paraphrased. It's true, and its possibly never been more important to remember Who orchestrates these matters.

Part III will come Sunday or Monday night. It is about PATHOS, the ability to stir emotion (passion).

29/2/08 7:52 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Hi, Tom, I'm playing "catch up" with my blogging. These are a few interesting posts you have here. I'm anxious to read about Pathos and Logos.

You know, as a Canadian, watching the election from over here across the border, there is something about Obama that disturbs me. He is really so much of an unknown factor that, if he is elected, I do believe you guys are in for a real "uh-oh" moment. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to support him, but haven't you guys seen that before? And hasn't that resulted in a big "uh-oh" moment afterwards?

I feel Bill Clinton was actually a pretty good President, and your country was in much better shape when he was President. I think Hillary has what it takes to be President, but I don't think Obama has. He is all style and no substance, and it is very obvious to the rest of the world, who does not have an emotional investment in the election. I think you guys are in for huge trouble if Obama becomes your next President. And you don't need any more of that right now.

...just my humble opinion from over here in Canada.

1/3/08 12:50 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Josie,
You know I appreciate your op-eds from the North, eh. Being such close neighbors, our national affairs affect each other.

As you know, I was (and am) no fan of Bill Clinton's, but by comparison, most experts (I'm not one) consider him more "centrist" and less liberal than Obama. I would not count Hillary out yet, and I do think it is healthy for the process if no candidate has a "free ride" a full six months before the convention, but if Hillary doesn't pull out some big wins in the weeks ahead, I do think that Obama will be free to pick his VP, and something tells me that neither one of these candidates will want to be upstaged by picking their opponent as a Veep.

1/3/08 1:26 AM  
Blogger J_G said...

There isn't anything surprising to me about Obama. He says what he believes, over and over and over again. The trouble I have is that so many people want to take the path that he is laying down. To me the most disturbing thing is so many Obama followers want the government to become the actual nanny state and have the government dictate to them everything they should do from cradle to grave. This is exactly what Obama is proposing and he makes no apology for it. That's why he appears to be so confident. Obama believes in most everything he says.

I know what Obama feels when he presents his campaign speeches promoting his ideals and the words have come so easily. I have debated local politicians and others that have been sure that taking my guns away from me and other law abiding citizens was the surest way to reduce crimes. Those words presenting my case against such thoughts came to me like they were built in and all I had to do was turn the switch to on.

You are going to see a similar type of reaction from McCain that you have pointed out about Hillary Clinton if Obama runs against John McCain. McCain also exhibits the air of inevitability albeit in a bit different manner that Hillary Clinton. McCain can barely contain his seething anger and it simmers just below the surface when he is confronted by those he feels he is superior to. McCain has virtually no knowledge of economics and is a Johnny-one-note using security as his issue. McCain is like Hillary Clinton in his feeling that it is his turn to be President.

I have this sick feeling that after the election is over conservatives and the free market forces will be fighting to keep the Federal government from overstepping it's Constitutional bounds and our freedom of speech will be replaced a complete break down into political correctness. I believe the time is now to prepare a conservative movement such as what Newt Gingrich put together back in the early 90's to counter these forces because we are very much splintered after the McCain nomination.

I think what I have just typed Bill O'Reilly refers to as bloviating;-)

2/3/08 5:05 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

J_G,
I know he calls it that--but only when the person doesn't know what he/she is talking about and you are one of the most up-to-speed historian/political commentator I know. W.F.Buckley would be proud!

Thanks. Come again and often as the race unfolds.

All,
Spent the entire weekend editing the video. It's coming along fine but still isn't done. Got to add narration. You can't imagine how many hours goes into a 10-12 minute video.

3/3/08 1:39 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I am back from Mexico and catching up on all of your posts. After reading POI for about a year, and reading your archives... I pretty much know where you stand and I'm standing right beside you. I love what Bob sent you (I hope he is doing okay and I am keeping him and the entire family in my prayers). I am also enjoying the comments section (as usual).

I look forward to more about your trip.

3/3/08 4:07 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy,
Good to have you back from Mexico.
Well, tonight's primary news may be interesting in light of these posts.
To be honest, I've been in over my head with the editing of the video project from Thailand. It will be a few more days until I can breathe a sigh of releif, but I do hope to post some of the clips on Youtube and then I'll link to them here. I just don't know how to "compress" the video files so they play on Youtube yet.
Well... back to work on this video project.

4/3/08 7:55 PM  

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