The Palin/Beck Lexicon

Watch this interview with Tim Pawlenty, and ask yourself: before Palin, would the Governor have used this type of construction?

  • “Steppin’ on us…”
  • “Pushin’ us to the side…”
  • “Gettin’ foreclosed on…”

Or would he have resisted the urge to truncate his gerunds? Notice that as he gets into it, Pawlenty drops the folksy phraseology, and starts using words commensurate with his likely intelligence, like “outlay.” Hmm.

Another rhetorical trick, again of arguably recent provenance: the conflation of the direction with the end. Jon Stewart asks if Pawlenty thinks that (as the GOP regularly insists) regulation equates to tyranny; Pawlenty answers that, well, regulation tends in the direction of tyranny, because it limits choices: “it is a continuum,” he says, and “we’re moving down [the continuum].” Well, sure. But that’s not an answer, is it?

And to make the stronger version of Stewart’s argument, “conflating the trend with the end” (my phrase) isn’t just bad because it’s inflammatory rhetoric; it’s bad because it’s a conversation ender, a surefire way to cut off all possibility of compromise. If regulation is tyranny, rather than an ordinary act that, taken to an unlikely extreme not here indicated, might become tyranny in the hands of the wrong leader, Pawlenty and his partisans are morally obligated to fight for every inch of political ground, because compromise on regulatory solutions is an immoral act. You can’t negotiate with someone convinced that the slightest concession approximates the death of democracy; radicalization is the natural result of this worldview.

Pawlenty would simultaneously set up a game of chicken, and tie his side’s hands to the wheel; and that would be fine, except the crash, in the form of, say, unregulated capital markets, could kill us all.


  1. I think listening to him explain that “continuum” theory hurt my brain. :(

  2. I didn’t watch the video but as someone who regularly drops my gs when speaking, is that really the point you want to hang your hat on? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just bash the guy for supporting the teaching of ID in schools? For me at least that’s a dealbreaker. It’s such an easy win for liberals that focusing on anything else seems like a waste of time to me. And as soon as you start criticizing people’s folksy grammar (whether it’s real or not) you set yourself up to sound like an elitist jerk. Some Liberals* still just haven’t figured that out.

    “And to make the stronger version of Stewart’s argument, “conflating the trend with the end” (my phrase) isn’t just bad because it’s inflammatory rhetoric…”

    Inflammatory rhetoric? Really? You use that term so much it’s completely lost all meaning.

    “…it’s bad because it’s a conversation ender, a surefire way to cut off all possibility of compromise.”

    I disagree. To use my analogy about the Right and Left being like drivers, what Pawlenty is saying is that tyranny/socialism/whatever is the cliff at the end of the long windy road. Every time one hits the gas the danger of going over the cliff goes up just a little bit. If Some Liberals feel compelled to always hit the gas the question then becomes, when DO you take your foot off the pedal? Granted Some Conservatives prefer to pull the car over to the side of the road which is equally dumb. Pawlenty seems to be saying that sensible moderates should think twice before they hit the gas. The debate lies in when they say ‘yes’ and when they say ‘no’.

    * I have decided to adopt the phraseology of Some Liberals and Some Conservatives as a short-hand to please Oneiroi. Hopefully going forward none of my statments will be taken as a generalization.

    1. But couldn’t you extend that “continuum” the other way as well, and equal complete liberty with the dissolution of society? Then you could argue that we’re moving towards that extreme every time a form regulation is removed.

      The whole idea is just a stupid simplification.

      1. Equaling complete liberty with the dissolution of society, I’m pretty sure that’s what guys like Hobbes and Locke did.

        1. Yeah, perhaps. Or at least the absence of society, since that was their starting point. But following the same logic, that means that even the act of creating a society is a step towards tyranny. And don’t get me started on all that “Constitution” and “forming a more perfect union” stuff. Tyranny, I say!

  3. I drop my G’s too, and I most certainly don’t blame you for that!! But if you were running for office… how would you speak? It’s a different question. When speaking for politicians I’ve worked for, or to a client, say, I avoid contractions entirely (think Lt Com Data on Star Trek ;) ).

    You’re injecting T-Paw’s point with way more nuance than he did. Your question is a separate one, and an interesting one, but not what the Hon. Gov. is saying. And yeah, teaching ID is a total dealbreaker. Very glad we agree on that one ;)

    1. Personally, I’d prefer a candidate who uses contractions, drops the f-bomb, and is brusque as hell. I want the candidate who says “Once in office, I’m not goinna to give the time of day to those fucking dipshits at [I deleted the names of five groups, want to guess what they were?]. I hate their goals and what they stand for and I think the country’d be better off without those fuckers.” Those two sentences would guarantee my vote (assuming the proper groups were named).

    2. It all depends on the audience. I certainly don’t consider the Daily Show equivelant to a Presidential debate. I think Stewart probably prefers his guests be a bit more loose.

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