Elements of political rhetoric, No. 237

I’m being a nice guy. Still being a nice guy. And now I’m not…

“Congressman [Paul] Ryan is a decent man, he is a family man, he is an articulate spokesman for [Mitt] Romney’s vision. But it’s a vision that I fundamentally disagree with.” – U.S. President Barack Obama


This is a rather toothless version of a classic and always enjoyable form of political attack: the Ol’ Switcheroo. Although variations exist, the architecture is usually the same: 1. A nice thing. 2. Another nice thing. 3. Not a nice thing. It’s basically a way of attempting to present yourself as reasonable and decent while not passing up a chance to remind voters that your opponent, given the opportunity, would suffocate the American Dream in its sleep just to steal its pajamas.

Until and unless the independent U.S. voter sours on the Republican vice-presidential nominee, this is a form of criticism you will continue to see from Democrats, many of whom apparently like Ryan despite his hard-right views. In particular, I can imagine Joe Biden giving it a go: “Paul Ryan is a good man, a great man, a beautiful Adonis of a man with whom, if I were even a little bit gay, I would totally make out. But if Paul Ryan becomes vice-president, he and Mitt Romney will not only dismantle medicare and punish the poor with spankings, they will also shred the very fabric of the space-time continuum. Still, great guy.”


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