Quote: “Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.” Mitt Romney
Figure of Speech: adynata (a-dyn-AH-ta), the last-people-on-earth figure. From the Greek, meaning “without power.”
Romney at last gave a pretty good speech defending his faith as part of an American “symphony” of religions. Sure, he turned up the rhetorical music a little loud, but it’s reassuring to see a presidential candidate defend separation of church and state.
One of his best lines appears in the form of an adynata, a figure of thought that refuses a proposition by positing an absurdly desperate or favorable hypothetical example, as in, “Even if we were the last people on earth, I wouldn’t go out with you.”
The beauty of the figure in Romney’s case is that it lets the most craven-seeming, issue-of-convenience candidate appear selfless and steadfast. “Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy,” Romney said in his speech. “If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience.”
Nice! While the Dems thump each other with the Republican tactic of attacking opponents’ strengths, they should learn a trick from Romney: trumpet your own political weaknesses as if they were strengths.
Snappy Answer: “So about gun control and abortion…”