Quote: “I led. He lagged.” Rudolph Giuliani, in last night’s Republican debate.
Figure of Speech: alliteration (a-lit-er-AY-tion), the first-letter repeater.
Giuliani claims he cut per capita taxes and spending as New York’s mayor while Mitt Romney let them increase when he was governor of Massachusetts. Rudy bared his blade, rhetorically speaking, with a little alliteration, a figure of speech that repeats the first sound in successive or nearby words. Figaro shies from its overuse, but this time the figure works. That’s because Giuliani also wields the see-saw isocolon that Figaro described in his last entry.
Take heed, wannabe wits: when you wish to emphasize a contrast, produce a pair of nearly identical clauses — the more similar, the better. (“She says tomato. I say tomahto.”) Alliteration entwines the twinning. (“She loved it. I loathed it.”)
And what wit did Mitt emit to rebut Rudy? The lame claim that the charge was “baloney” — thus following a lively alliteration with a ponderous pork product.
Snappy Answer: “I led. He lied.”