Monday, February 8, 2016

The Paralepsis Politician

Radio personality Chris Plante pointed out that one of Donald Trump's favorite rhetorical tricks is to use paralepsis. That is a rhetorical device to  attributing a smear away  from himself while simultaneously trumpeting the slam. So far, it has given the Manhattan Mogul quite a bit of earned media in the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination race.

For example, Donald Trump constantly tried to cast doubts on Senator Ted Cruz's (R-TX) eligibility for running for President, by claiming that others would sue over the unlitigated "natural born citizen" question.  Eventually, Trump dropped the charade of quoting others about Cruz's eligibility and then taunted him as a "Canadian anchor baby".

Donald Trump took down Dr. Ben Carson as he was rising in the polls by seizing about Carson's autobiographic attribute of a bad childhood temper.  Trump challenged Carson's story as being unbelievable.  Trump took it further by labeling such behavior as being pathological.  Trump implied that Carson was like a child molester because they say there are no cures for pathological behaviors. So  attack by innuendo then attribute the origins to others.

Trump took this paralepsis politics to a new low on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary.  As the Manhattan Mogul critiqued his opponent's answers from the Republican Debate in Manchester, Trump touched upon Cruz's answer about enhanced interrogation of terrorists. A voice from the audience shouted out an epithet. Trump paused and asked her to repeat the sexist slur. But that was not good enough, so Donald Trump proclaimed that Ted Cruz was a "pussy" from the podium.

From a technical standpoint, Trump exploits the anger of others and repeats it, but tries not to leave his fingerprints on the verbal assault. From a cultural and common courtesy standpoint, it is incredible that a major party candidate thinks that utter such offensive insults before an audience, even attributed to others, is acceptable public discourse.  This is not being a politically incorrect iconoclast but being a boorish buffoon who does not display the internal fortitude to own what he intends to say.

It is widely expected, based upon the polling and potential for crossover votes, that Donald Trump will win the New Hampshire primary.  Being an insult celebrity candidate in a crowded field can garner a rabid core of supporters.  As a television personality who made his mark in reality television, he should know that ultimately to win, Trump  needs the support from those who have been vanquished earlier.  While Jeb Bush may not be the beneficiary, he is quite right that "You can't insult your way to the nomination."

There is a school of thought that many low information voters decide who to vote for President based upon who they would like to have in their living rooms every day for four years. Will it be the  paralepsis politician  who sounds like he has Tourette's Syndrome? 

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