Monday, September 08, 2008
Lapidos, Juliet. "The Hottest Rhetorical Device of Campaign '08." SLATE September 5, 2008.
Politicians eager to keep up with the latest fad need more than a flag pin this election season; the hottest accessory of the 2008 campaign is the reversible raincoat. That's the nickname speechwriters have given to the rhetorical device in which words are repeated in transposed order, as with Churchill's famous line: "Let us preach what we practice—let us practice what we preach." The fancy Greek name for the trick is antimetabole, and it's been cropping up in speeches by Democrats and Republicans alike. John McCain, in his Thursday convention address, deployed the technique in this admirably honest line: "We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us." The audience roared. McCain's antimetabole echoed one used by his running mate, Sarah Palin, the night before: "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change." The inversion of change and career, forming a crisscross structure, gives the line a powerful one-two-punch feel. During his speech last week, Bill Clinton recycled an antimetabole he'd first used in the 1990s: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." The turn of phrase pleased the delegates—they clapped and hooted . . . Read the rest here: http://www.slate.com/id/2199536/.