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Thursday, May 19, 2005

British MP demolishes Republican inquisition panel

Chloe posts about the recent food-for-bombs inquiry circus.

Galloway was splendid. Check it out if you haven't seen him live: the BBC video (see "blistering attack")

I found myself wondering why such shows of rhetoric are so rare: only a Galloway could effectively tell off the new McCarthyism for what it is.

Is it because we're so unused to the study? Or because most listeners would find it flamboyant and suspicious? The speech was damned by the disgruntled committee as a bit of theatrical fluff, as they scampered away with their tails between their legs. Will red-state Americans equally shrug off the Scots accent? Or ignore the news as usual? Time will tell if Galloway's performance was dismissed or received as a rare spark of personal genius.

But the question leads me to wonder about the vanishing of rhetorical flamboyance from politics after 1950 with an atmosphere of enforced earnesty, and the relative weight advanced rhetoric pulls now in an age when we're so unused to it. After all, Bush won largely based on his mastery of a certain rhetoric of pathos tapping exactly the idiom of the Texas preacher. I can't imagine rhetorical exercises mustering such dynamic responses as Bush and Galloway do for us in the 1890s, say, when flourish was so common.

Next question: where would the Dems find someone as good as Galloway? How many lit majors are there on the Hill?


Blogger Abby said...

I think the great danger of our time is this idea that your major should be directly related to what you want to do in life. I do think that a good liberal education ought to concern itself with equipping individuals for citizenship, but this is more than simply a value-added input; it's about more than increasing your earning power.

It is very hard to get summer internships in certain fields if you have a background in another. I tried to work in equity analysis a long time ago. I was interested in business and liked to understand how things worked, but a Classics degree just didn't cut it. (I think that Classics is better respected by business in the UK, FWIW.)

So, I don't think that there are very many literature types on the Hill.

I also think that people who understand more than one world literature and policy, or literature and business, are never fully trusted by either group. They may have wonderful insights, and they may be able to make important contributions, but they always remain outsiders to some extent. Perhaps they need other, informal networks. I don't know. Perhaps we should start a society for the promotion and preservation of humanists in publica and practical life.

2:09 PM  

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