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11 posts from December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

Peggy Noonan: Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan seem too scripted, "phony."

Former Reagan advisor and speechwriter Peggy Noonan has some interesting criticism in the Wall Street Journal about the recent speeches at the Jack Kemp Foundation by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan:

Sen. Rubio had a better speech in that it was deeper, more broadly philosophical and less prescriptive. He told of how he'd spoken, at the August convention, of his father, a bartender in banquet halls. Recently he spoke in a "fancy" hotel in New York—that was rather Sarah Palin, the "fancy"—and the ballroom workers gave him a badge that said "Rubio, Banquet Bartender." He should wear that badge on his suit every day. It's better symbolism than Mr. Romney's car elevator.

But Mr. Rubio also indulged a rhetorical tic that we hear a lot and that is deeply obnoxious. He said the words "middle class" 12 times on the first page alone. Repeating that phrase mantralike will not make people think you're concerned about the middle class, it will only make them think you're concerned about winning the middle class. It is important to remember in politics that people aren't stupid.

I find both Mr. Ryan's and Mr. Rubio's media expertise mildly harrowing—look at the prompter here, shake your head here, lower your voice there, raise it here, pick up your pace in this section. An entire generation of politicians in both parties has been too trained in media, and to their detriment. They are very smooth but it doesn't make them seem more convincing, it makes them seem phonier.
My old boss had actually been an actor, but he didn't seem like a phony.

Full column here