Further to my question about the usage of ‘Blood libels’ I posted yesterday, I found the following lead-copy of an article referring to Sara Palin’s rhetoric in today’s Washington Post. It seems the article is hinting a problem of her presidential quality in terms of choice of words. However, I don’t understand why on the earth , God appears in a file of Founding Fathers, the Constitution and Ronald Reagan, even though it may be a rhetoric gimmick. It looks to me an odd combination (or comparison). Do you understand my question? Can somebody clarify?
‘Sarah Palin’s effort to defuse controversy backfires with ‘blood libel’ comment:
The presidential-quality stagecraft was there: an American flag over Sarah Palin’s left shoulder and another over her heart. So was the rhetorical polish, with its invocations of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, God and Ronald Reagan.’
Actually, I believe this is a question about rhetoric, not American culture. The reason the statement backfires is that it is unintentionally hilarious. Rhetorically speaking, in enumerating a list it is good practice to go from the least important item to the most important. That is called, colloquially, a “build”. In the Declaration of Independence, there are these words:
And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
The build is from lives, which Jefferson considered the least important item (probably out of a desire to demonstrate bravery), to fortunes (in both senses: monetary and fate), and our sacred honor (above which there was nothing of more importance that he could imagine).
Sarah Palin’s list (if that is the actual order), puts the Founding Fathers and the Constitution first (least important). God comes in second. Who comes in third, as most important? Why, Ronald Reagan. He’s apparently more important than God and our Constitution in her mind.
That’s what’s funny about it.