Wit – the first casualty of political discourse
Contributor Chris Horan put his finger on the dreary state of political oratory in this country now that cameras and mikes are everywhere. The last memorable orator was David Lange – trouble is, his comedy masked the dismantling of a Kiwi society many of us loved.
He was right about the current crop: our media-savvy, media trained pollies bear no resemblance to the old style oratory of earlier days when there was just one television channel. Here’s just a couple of examples: The 1972 Auckland town hall meeting starring that battler Rob Muldoon, saw over 20 people ejected by police.
That was one part of the meeting- the best was reserved for the interjectors’ wit and the way Muldoon relished his own retorts. The crowd that night may have been hostile, but by the end of the evening, they respected him. At the same place and for the same election, Labour leader Norm Kirk’s meeting was similarly rowdy with about the same number of ejections and the same quick-wittedness on and off stage.
It must be all of a month ago that the world was poised for a White House decision on whether to go to war with Iran. And then the Don back-pedalled. Next? Neither his White House Counsel Don McGahn, nor the justifiably vilified Attorney General William Barr appeared before Congress in defiance of subpoenas. Trump, who describes himself as the ‘most transparent President in history’ prohibited them. This week he also prohibited two close aides – but they are likely to be subpoenaed, and so it goes with the man who last month described himself as an ‘extremely stable genius…’
Style changes at the Guardian newspaper now reflect the disastrous impacts of climate change more dramatically. The Guardian’s editor-in-chief said the changes are designed to better reflect the “catastrophe for humanity” we are facing. Editors and writers will replace the term “climate change” with “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global warming” with “global heating.” Other updates include the word “wildlife” over the word “biodiversity,” and “climate science denier” instead of “climate skeptic.” The Guardian also recently added a global carbon dioxide level report to its daily weather report.
Can the media commentariat please kill off the term ‘optics’, as in ‘the optics don’t look good’. It’s trendy, past its use-by – and annoying. How about a return to that neglected but more accurate term, appearances?