The empty calorie President

The good work on this was done by reader Andrew.

NY Times:

“I have recently seen for myself the great possibilities of Africa and the great needs of Africa,” he said. “That continent’s economic future depends upon trade. We’ll continue to help African countries become full partners in trade and prosperity.”

Mr. Bush said, as he has often in recent months, that one key to prosperity is lower taxes, so people can spend more.

“We’ve been through a lot: recession, war, emergencies and corporate scandals,” he said. “But I’m optimistic about the future. I’m optimistic about the future because I see hopeful signs.

Renana Brooks:

Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. Empty language is the emotional equivalent of empty calories. Just as we seldom question the content of potato chips while enjoying their pleasurable taste, recipients of empty language are usually distracted from examining the content of what they are hearing. Dominators use empty language to conceal faulty generalizations; to ridicule viable alternatives; to attribute negative motivations to others, thus making them appear contemptible; and to rename and “reframe” opposing viewpoints.

[snip]

Another of Bush’s dominant-language techniques is personalization. By personalization I mean localizing the attention of the listener on the speaker’s personality. Bush projects himself as the only person capable of producing results. In his post-9/11 speech to Congress he said, “I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.” He substitutes his determination for that of the nation’s. In the 2003 State of the Union speech he vowed, “I will defend the freedom and security of the American people.” Contrast Bush’s “I will not yield” etc. with John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

The word “you” rarely appears in Bush’s speeches. Instead, there are numerous statements referring to himself or his personal characteristics–folksiness, confidence, righteous anger or determination–as the answer to the problems of the country. Even when Bush uses “we,” as he did many times in the State of the Union speech, he does it in a way that focuses attention on himself. For example, he stated: “Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people, and the hopes of all mankind. And we accept this responsibility.”

TBogg

TBogg

Yeah. Like I would tell you....