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    What’s a Natoma Worth?  

     If in this job I can save one life, one family, one person, one Natoma, this job is worth it.

    Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH),
    explaining his decision to vote for the health care bill.

    anaphora (an AH for ah), the first-word repeater. From the Greek, meaning “carrying back.” Also synecdoche (sin-EK-doe-kee), the generalizing trope.

    Natoma Canfield, an Ohio cleaning woman, can’t afford health insurance since her current insurer jacked up her rates. And she can’t switch to a new policy because of  a pre-existing condition. President Obama flew to see her—and to convince wavering Democrat John Boccieri, who just happened to represent Canfield’s district.

    Boccieri uses an anaphora—repeating the first word of successive phrases or clauses—to  explain his anecdote-based decision. Often employed to express politically useful emotion, the figure shows he cares for every single blessed constituent. Thus he polishes his disinterest—one of the three characteristics of a healthy ethos (the other two being virtue and practical wisdom). Why, he’d sacrifice his job if it saved just one life!

    He might have organized his phrases better, starting with “family” and then listing “person,” “life,” and “Natoma.” But we’ll give him credit nonetheless. Plus he gets a bonus for throwing in a synecdoche, making a Natoma the currency of insured people.

    Of course, it would be rather difficult to prove whether anyone’s life will be saved by one congressman’s vote. But health care lies in the realm of rhetoric. Certainly not logic.

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