The most interesting thing about Chris Christie’s apology is that it was no apology.
An apology is a speech act – an utterance that is in some way world-changing. Apologies change the world by reversing the power of speaker and addressee: the speaker puts himself intentionally in a one-down position as … More >
Debate 1 is over, and the pundits have declared Mitt Romney the victor. The only remaining question is: was his victory overwhelming, or did Romney only win because Obama didn’t?
That is today’s story. But will it be the way we tell it after November 7?
On the surface it seems set … More >
The world of the early twenty-first century is one divided by factionalism and suspicion, and connected by new channels of communication that are uneditable, instantaneous, and anonymous. Therefore the most important thing a modern president must know in order to be effective is how to use language, both interpretively and … More >
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make a word mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
President Obama has been criticized by both left and right for poor communication. That may be true, but the fault lies less … More >
Ending his April 5th House floor presentation of the largest proposed cutback of government spending in history, Congressman Paul Ryan declared, “It is now up to all of us to keep America exceptional.” It was the third time Ryan invoked American exceptionalism in his speech.
The idea of exceptionalism has surfaced … More >
I thought President Obama’s State of the Union address was a very good speech: well written and well-delivered. It remains to be seen, of course, whether it will have its intended effect or indeed any effect; but State of the Union speeches seldom have lasting political effects.
The “prom night” seating … More >
There is no ideology of the “center.” What is called a “centrist” or a “moderate” is actually very different — a bi-conceptual, someone who is conservative on some issues and progressive on others, in many, many possible combinations. Why does this matter? From the perspective of how the brain works, … More >
In the wake of the Gulf oil tragedy, almost as much attention has been given to the President’s demeanor as to the spill itself. The punditry has been offering advice: show anger, get in BP’s face, shake a moralizing finger, share the pain. Two questions arise in response to these … More >