Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bill Clinton's Speech: Passionate rationality can move the public

I've been venting here for a long time about the need for higher level debate, and railing against the 'dumbing down' of the debate.

Repeatedly in this blog, I have emphasized that rebuttal is the heart of debate. Without rebuttals back and forth, you never have a debate, but just two monologues, or, worse, two sets of slogans.

It has been frustrating to me to see the reluctance of Obama to really engage in rebuttal, aside from his lengthy presentation to the Press Club. My most recent post on this theme was on the need to rebut Reaganism. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton couldn't do that, because he was to a serious extent a ratifier of Reagan's destructive ideas. But I am delighted that he punctured the balloon of lies that the Republicans had put out at their Convention.

Steve Benen's lovely piece at Maddowblog makes the same key point: Clinton showed you don't have to be afraid of laying out the facts in rebuttal. You do have to do it simply, and with emotion, but done right it is one of the powerful tools in politics.

Rationality is never conclusive, but it is way underestimated as a tool of politics.

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