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Wednesday, 05 September 2012

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mxyzptlk

What you have here is your basic enthymematic rhetoric, when someone wants the audience to link two concepts that otherwise aren't connected, but either doesn't have the evidence to support that case, or doesn't want to get caught "mis-speaking." So those concepts are stated in proximity to each other without directly linking them, in the hopes that the audience will do the link-work. This establishes the dicey claim, and ostensibly leaves the speaker's hands clean.

Reagan already established the premise by outwardly linking "South Side Chicago" and "food stamps" with "black" (and a particular sort of black caricature). All someone has to do now is say Obama's name in the same sentence as "South Side Chicago" or "food stamps," the dog whistle is sounded, and anyone who paid attention to Reagan will get the subtext.

It's nothing new -- its used in advertising all the time, and can be especially effective in film/television when combined with visual cues. But another recent and egregious use of enthymematic political rhetoric was when Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld would constantly remind people to think of our troops in Iraq when we think of 9/11, or vice-versa. Before long, the majority of the U.S. public believed Iraq had something to do with 9/11, despite all evidence and even the 9/11 Report flatly stating that wasn't the case.

SEK

But another recent and egregious use of enthymematic political rhetoric was when Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld would constantly remind people to think of our troops in Iraq when we think of 9/11, or vice-versa. Before long, the majority of the U.S. public believed Iraq had something to do with 9/11, despite all evidence and even the 9/11 Report flatly stating that wasn't the case.

I hadn't thought of that, but damn, that's spot on.

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