Tag Archives: James Fallows

“Why Bill Clinton’s speeches succeed”

James Fallows has a fascinating column today in The Atlantic. Here’s why he thinks Clinton connects:

Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.

That is the significance of “They want us to think” and “The strongest argument is” and “The arithmetic says one of three things must happen” and even “Now listen to me here, this is important.” He is showing that he understands the many layers of logic and evidence and positioning and emotion that go into political discussion — and, more important, he takes for granted that listeners can too. . . .

He compares Clinton’s style to Sports Radio Talk, where it’s assumed listeners understand the nuances and finer points of rules nad strategy and analysis. He goes on:

It’s the difference between clarifying, and over-simplifying. Clarification, with the confidence that people can understand the back and forth, lies behind passages like this, which characterized most of the speech.

I think he’s got it exactly right.

I heart James Fallows

In his Vanity Fair blog, Fallows has a word today about Sen. Mitch McConnell who is once again holding up 80+ federal nominees because he is pissed about one of them.

Fallows says:  In the short run, the power of public embarrassment needs to be used against individual politicians who recognize so little check on their personal power.