Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Obama v. HRC--On Rhetoric

Perhaps the most striking difference between HRC and BHO is the language they use in their campaigns. Obama is a first person plural guy and HRC is a first person singular gal. He is into WE, she is into I.

For example, their comments on Edwards leaving the race:

Sen. Barack Obama issued this statement about John Edwards ending his presidential campaign:

“John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news. At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington.

"John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americans can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America."
Obama's first paragraph is about JE and his crusade. It is moving and beautiful. It's vaguely reminiscent of a lefty song from the 1940s of the sort that Woody Guthrie penned. The second paragraph is about what WE can do to make the message a reality.

HRC had this to say:

"Well, Sen. Edwards is a friend of mine, he was a colleague in the Senate, and I have the highest regard for him, and I’m really admiring of what he has done to make sure that poverty was on the agenda here in America. He encouraged all of us in his passion and advocacy, and I hope he will continue that work because it is really important that we stay focused on what we’re going to do to help people."

"You know, I’m out here talking about making the economy work for everybody. And it needs to work for the middle class, working people, it needs to give a life line to poor people like we did in the 1990s, so in any way that I can be part of this effort to try to target poverty I am going to be."

Unlike Obama, HRC starts by mentioning Edwards in relation to herself rather than his ideas. Then she mentions poverty in a checklist kinda way. She doesn't reiterate the theme or help us visualize it. Her second pargraph is about what she hoping to do rather than what we can do together.


At 1/30/2008 , Blogger Eli said...

Ha! The one "we" is in reference to Bill Clinton's administration.

To be fair, though, Hillary Clinton did release a more eloquent, though equally vague, statement that does at least speak about "our" even if there's still no "we."

Here it is:

"John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it - by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate.

"John ran with compassion and conviction and lifted this campaign with his deep concern for the daily lives of the American people. That is what this election is about - it's about our people. And John is one of the greatest champions the American people could ask for.

"I wish John and Elizabeth all the best. They have my great personal respect and gratitude. And I know they will continue to fight passionately for the country and the people they love so deeply."

At 1/30/2008 , Blogger ZT said...

Interesting. This new prose highlights that perhaps the issue isn't I v. We so much as a concern over whether to consider individuals or movements. Obama seems to speak and throw himself in with the masses in an almost Jacksonian approach to democracy. HRC seems to emphasize individuals, usually herself but in this case John Edwards.

At 1/31/2008 , Blogger bpt said...

perfect illustration of the Cuomo line, politics is poetry and governing is prose. Hillary Clinton is just never inspirational. I wish I were enthusiastic about this historic opp, but I just want to turn off the TV when she comes on. If it's Clinton vs. McCain, tell me when it's over.


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