George Bush's 1st Rule: Paradoxical Political Speech

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Introduction: I have lived most of my life in Wisconsin. I have followed with great interest the reaction of my neighbors to Governor Walker’s budget proposal to eliminate most collective bargaining rights of public employees. This might be the first of several posts related to the local and national media coverage of the debate in Madison.

George Bush’s 1st Rule: Paradoxical Political Speech

I formulated this first rule many years ago. It is pretty simple and the best example is complaints of President Bush’s cognitive abilities from his critics.

If you believe a) that President Bush is not smart you cannot b) believe that President Bush was an evil genius.

Fans of President Bush were also routinely guilty of paradoxical political speech. For example, if you believe that a) President Bush was brilliant at foreign policy strategist you cannot b) also believe that the aftermath of the Iraq war invasion was part of his brilliant foreign policy strategy.

Teachers Using Sick Time

Many supporters of Governor Walker’s bill have cried foul that many teachers are calling in sick to work, believing teachers are attending protest rallies while on sick time.

This is the paradoxical political speech.

a) If you believe that teachers are over-paid, lazy dolts, poisoning the minds of our children you cannot also believe that

b) It matters that teachers are out sick and school is closed.

If you believe statement “A” you should also logically believe that children are better off at home with their parents and not in the public education system.

Recognizing Paradoxical Political Speech

Paradoxical political speech often has these traits:

1) Delivered in short sound-bites

2) Presented as non-negotiable fact

3) Supported with shallow and flimsy examples

4) Aimed at the person and not the idea or principle

Avoiding Paradoxical Political Speech

My favorite principle from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is:

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

I am listening … share your examples of paradoxical political speech. Comment on how we can have a conversation about problems without tearing down the involved parties.