Pundit Wire

Author Archives: Charles Crawford

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Is West ‘Provoking’ Russia?

russiaFascinating question: if X responds badly to your action and cites your action as a reason for behaving badly, how far are you responsible for what X does?

Three scenarios…

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Vladimir Putin, Crimea and ‘Double Standards’

putin On 18 March Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivered a major speech to Russia’s political elite aimed at explaining Russia’s policy towards Crimea and Ukraine. Plenty of commentators have analysed it (and attacked it mercilessly) on points of substance. See for example this brisk piece for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty…

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Slippery Slopes, Slippery Language, Slippery Logic

frog in water We all use metaphors to make a point. Speechwriters adore a good metaphor: get the right one and the speaker sounds wise, folksy, sassy and astute all in one go.

The trouble with such metaphors is that they capture your imagination but deaden your brain.

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Syria: The Shrek/Onion Paradigm

syria speechAny speechwriter’s toughest assignment: what words to use when the policy is in utter disarray? President Obama’s team last night made the best of a dismal job.

Syria is a classic example of what I call TSOP: The Shrek/Onion Paradigm. Issues are like onions are like ogres: they have layers. Look at some of Syria’s layers, in ascending order of abstractness.

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How To Deal With Abuse? Always Agree With It!

Cyber Bullying Back in 1976 Margaret Thatcher did something extraordinary that defined her political career. She opened a speech to the Finchley Conservatives by responding head-on to a jibe at her made by a Soviet journalist.

Mrs. Thatcher did not angrily denounce the intended insult. Instead she ‘owned’ it; she seized it for herself. This had various effects. It neutralised at a stroke the Soviet point. It made her look confident. And it gave her a ready, tough political nickname that she went on to exploit to fine effect.

As in politics, so on the Internet.

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Martin Luther King’s Dream Speech: Lightning in a Bottle

MLK Hop into your time-machine to 28 August 1963. A huge crowd of mainly dark-skinned Americans has assembled in Washington before the Lincoln Memorial to demand full civil rights and equality. Most of the people there have lived their lives in the shadow of that momentous Supreme Court judgment, and the profusion of ignominious apartheid-style laws and petty spiteful regulations that it justified. Martin Luther King steps up, the final speaker.

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Posted in Civil Rights, Culture, General, History, Political Rhetoric, Race & Ethnicity, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

President Obama: Another Egypt Speech

President Obama PunditWire readers have already seen how President Obama’s famous Cairo speech in 2009 did not address the real issues Egypt was facing.

Now in sweltering Egypt in 2013 the deeper problems of that country are well and truly out in the open, with hundreds dead. President Obama has interrupted his vacation to put out a new and substantive statement on the deteriorating situation in Egypt. How does this one measure up?

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US/Russia Relations: Too Disappointing

President Obama and President Putin Not long ago I wrote here about the odd language of American official ‘diplomatic disappointment’ in the context of US/China relations and the Edward Snowden business.

Now President Obama has called off his scheduled bilateral meeting with President Putin in Moscow before the G20 gathering in St. Petersburg. He has publicly expressed his own ‘disappointment’ that Russia gave Snowden temporary asylum.

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