Evan Soltas
Oct 2, 2012

The GOP, Struggling for Words

My latest piece in Bloomberg analyzes the rhetorical approaches of Democrats and Republicans and the consequences of those decisions. They who fail to sound moderate are they who will soon fail to win policy or make elections.

One of President Obama's greatest skills as an orator and politician is his ability to construct rhetorical concessions early in policy debates that help him gain victory in his own original terms. It's a talent he will most certainly bring to bear on Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the first debate this Wednesday.

In his most recent State of the Union address, for instance, the President said, "this country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy." In his May kick-off speech for his re-election campaign, Obama called the free market "one of the greatest forces for progress in human history." He described the American "free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world's ever known" in his convention address to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

An "all-of-the-above" energy plan? That used to be the Republican line. The paeans to free markets? Something you'd expect to hear from the Republican challenger, not an incumbent Democratic president. His health care reform plan? Its broad outlines, if not the details, and the arguments invoked on its behalf, all came from the Heritage Foundation and a certain Republican governor. By co-opting the language -- but not (fully) the ideas or the intentions -- of the opposition, Obama creates a valuable appearance of ceding more ground than he actually has.

He gains credibility early in arguments at his opponents' expense by casting himself as the only adult in the room, while simultaneously forcing the opposition into disarray, as Republicans are obligated to redraw the lines of battle in ways that make themselves appear more extreme...

Keep reading here, also.