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    Latter-Day Mitt

    image.jpgQuote:  “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…”

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    Reader Comments (5)

    thought it was a terrible speech… …in content, not exactly awful, but the delivery was horrid and compared to similar speeches and tracts by Jefferson and Kennedy that it seems to ape, misses the mark completely…

    …worse, it brands and stamp him with the Mormon tag more so ever as he didn't even hardly mention the Mormon thing… …like Nixon saying he's not a crook… …now, for many, who really didn't associate it, MORMON is stamped across his candidacy…

    …just compare the speech to Kennedy's — it's remarkably similar, but the style and tone are way off…

    …it might be the catalyst to spur the way over such misguided and reprehensible prejudice against people of his faith, but a future candidate will be the one to reap the rewards of his oratory foray…

    But today December 2007, I don't think it helped him with the intended market target… …instead, it probably galvanized those against him and others who knew little of his faith. Meanwhile, those in support just had their views reaffirmed.
    December 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenternaum
    OK, so what do you think Romney should have said? And how should he have said it?

    December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    The quote you have at the top of your story, while an adynata, is also modified from the Bible, Mark 8:36:

    “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”


    So this is a beautiful example of Romney using code language to reach out to evangelicals, who will DEFINITELY pick up on that line. I think its one hell of a good line to sneak in to speak directly to his “adopted” tribe of evangelicals.
    December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
    Good call, David. Thanks.

    December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    It's funny, Fig. You made a good point re my comment on the previous Mitt post:


    ...so I've taken time to reconsider.

    In his speech, Romney quoted John Adams, who said "Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people."

    Soon after, he says "[The church leaders'] authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin."

    I'd say that's a fair balance of statements. I've always felt that separation of church and state is best for both; a national church would lose moral authority, and inevitably become a PR tool for the government (or vice versa, as in Iran, where the "President" isn't the leader of the country; the clerics who put him there are).

    I have challenged my more conservative friends who claim they want a theocracy with this statement: Name one theocracy in the history of mankind that you would want to live in. Post-shah Iran? Medieval Spain?

    I've also found it perplexing that we Americans, as a Christian-influenced people, swear on Bibles. "When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God," Romney said. But Jesus clearly says we should not swear on anything.

    "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes ' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil." [Matthew 5:34-37]

    But hey, it doesn't matter what Jesus said, as long as you're a Christian and it feels right, right?


    (cricket chirp)

    I have to admit that I'm bigoted. It's due to two bad experiences with Mormon bosses in the business world, who started firing people and replacing them with fellow Mormons (first at CompUSA corporate in the mid-90s, then at a division of Siemens in the early 2000s). I know, rationally, that two Mormons do not represent the entire body... but it's hard to trump personal experience with reason, sometimes. If Romney gets elected, I’ll do my best to judge him by what he does, not what two bad apples did.

    Still, I’ll be watching… and if Romney’s whole White House staff turns out to be Mormon, you can bet I’ll have a “told-ya-so” blog ready to go. ;)
    December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRick

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