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    Channeling MLK

    obama_mlk.jpgQuote: “In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone. In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone. In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.”  Barack Obama

    Figure of Speech: symploce (SIM-plo-see), the first and last repeat. From the Greek, meaning “interweaving.”

    After Hillary Clinton made the mistake of saying it took a president to push through civil rights legislation, Barack Obama has been channeling MLK as much as he can. The effort is paying off: Obama snagged nearly all the black vote in the Nevada caucuses.

    Yesterday he gave a Kingly sermon at MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. The speech occasionally slipped into wonkish arrhythmia, with clunky phrases like “empathy deficit.” But Obama got the crowd amen-ing when he picked up the figures that MLK used. One of the best is the symploce, which repeats the beginning and end of successive phrases, clauses or sentences.

    Obama uses this rhythmic figure toward the end of his oration. Cicero would approve. Save the pathos for the end, he said.

    Hillary must wish she can keep the beat as well as her opponent — or her husband.

    Snappy Answer:  “In the struggle to end this speech, we…what were you saying?”

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    Reader Comments (3)

    "It ain't the meat, it's the motion," says Melissa Manchester, and she surely got it right. Perhaps with politicians (and the clergy, and stairwell lovers), it should be "ain't the meet, it's the motion." Symploce might not be much without the suprasegmentals: the stresses, tones, and cadences of delivery that carry you along, that enchant the cortex and enlist the spinal cord while the words sneak into the deep nuclei of your brain and seduce your unsuspecting heart (hence, country western music). Rhetoric without oration? Nope. We all know that if you know only some of the words BUT YOU CAN DANCE, you never go home alone. How else did Cicero get that young babe?
    January 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Block
    Barack Obama should not compare himself to someone who is not like him at all.
    January 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTerri
    Terri - "Comparing" and "emulating" are not the same thing, of course. Nor are "comparing" and "channeling".

    Or did Obama make a statement saying he was as significant an individual as Martin Luther King was, or some other such thing ? Could you reference a speech or a campaign statement or an interview or a press conference ?

    I would like to know what actual comparison he made, if any, so I can judge for myself.

    Or maybe you can just relate, in a few words, how these two individuals are radically different. What is their defining difference, in your opinion ?

    Please educate me ! That's why I visit here from time to time - to learn. My mind is a fertile field... awaiting your response.

    Thanks !

    January 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHoward

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