Bush and Blair

The Guardian’s Ros Taylor makes an interesting comparison between Tony Blair’s and George Bush’s rhetorical strategies.

And there was a great deal of Bushery about today’s speech. Like the US president, Tony has developed a winning habit of acknowledging his opponents’ views, plucking them out, and flicking them far away into the bushes of the Rose Garden. “People say I’m …” opens George. “I know people say …” echoes Tony. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.

This may well be the case but after a quick sail through the text of Blair’s speech to the current Labour Conference, what struck me were the differences of style. Blair punctutaes the speech with humour and rhetorical questions that creates a humour and a sense of inclusion that often seems to be lacking from Bush’s presidential pronouncements.

I need to do a close reading of the speech and compare it Bush’s convention speech.

Some more pertinent and funny comments from Taylor:

God may move in mysterious ways, but the Labour party – well, Tony knows just how to elicit their forgiveness. It’s part belief, part a base appeal to their love of power. “I’m like any other human being,” he told delegates, “as fallible and as capable of being wrong.” The difference, of course, is that when Tony’s wrong, he’s still fundamentally right….

“It’s been hard for you,” he said. “Like the delegate who told me: ‘I’ve defended you so well to everyone I’ve almost convinced myself.’ That’s loyalty for you.”

This was startling stuff, when you thought about it. Tony was thanking a delegate for lying on his behalf. Still, that’s what it takes to be a Blairite – the courage, not of your own convictions, but of Tony’s: the belief in a higher cause, and the readiness to endure the dirty fighting, the sexed-up dossiers, the unsavoury bedfellows along the way. He denied that the battle is a religious war. But it sure as hell sounds like a crusade, and a damned uncomfortable one at that.

The rhetorical strategies of Bush, Blair and Howard and how these played to the American, British and Australian media would make for a very interesting study. Maybe this is an alternative point of comparison rather than the historic comparison of the cold war.

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