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    Rudy Rules Rhetorical Roost; Mitt Merely Moans

    rudy_the_rooster.jpgQuote:  “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.

    Lagged, indeed.

    Snappy Answer:  “I led. He lied.”

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    Reader Comments (12)

    I don't know Fig. I like beef bologna as well.
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNeo Lombardi
    Yes, but as Walter Mondale said of Gary Hart, where's the beef?

    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Loved this entry, Figaro! Your best lines inclined to rhyme. Is there a name for a rhyming figure?
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLakshmi
    E.W. Bullinger calls the PARANOMASIA "rhyming-words" in his 1898 magnum opus, "Figures of Speech in the Bible." While Figaro defines the paranomasia as a "near-pun," the term can also apply to the witty use of rhyme.

    So, Lakshmi: Nice paranomasia!

    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Rudy says Mitt increased taxes and spending. So he didn't actually lag; in Rudy's claim, Mitt ran in the opposite direction.

    So, is Giuliani's figure really that effective?
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSteve McKing
    In spoken rhetoric, sound can trump sense, Steve. Besides, you might credit Rudy with softening the charge by saying he "lagged" instead of something horrible, such as "acted like a liberal."

    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Giuliani soften his words? Oh, come on, Fig! Read this morning's New York Times:

    "Mr. Giuliani’s campaign dispatched a 'not for attribution' e-mail message to reporters arguing that Mr. Thompson had, as a member of the Senate in 2001, been part of a coalition that sought to decrease the size of tax cuts proposed by Mr. Bush.'"

    While Rudy was tossing bon mots, his staff was leaking the vicious charge that Fred Thompson attempted a verifiable sensible act.
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
    Good point, John. How should Fred respond?

    "I have not, and will not, ever make a moderate decision." THAT'd mollify the base!
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Right. That's like Hillary defending herself against the charge that she would act responsibly in Iraq.
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarta
    Yes, by refusing to name a pull-out date for the convenience of insurgents and militias.

    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Your entry reminds me of the headline for a 1935 story in Variety about rural movie-goers disliking farm films: "Stix Nix Hick Pix."
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaula
    The greatest paranomasia headline of all time.
    October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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