A friend commented that our pollies are addicted to the phrase Let me be clear…. He feels that Shorten led the way but that the Liberals and the National Party politicians are now also working it to death.
The person who is most associated with the phrase is Barack Obama. As is often the way with these mannerisms, admirers copy respectfully and critics mock gleefully. It is from the Obama campaign that various people, inside and outside of politics, picked up the slogan Yes We Can!
More recently we had Trump making America great again. So inevitably various other countries and institutions have been singled out for greatness. It is an easy slogan to borrow – Make … great again! Just fill in the blank.
The slogan that probably resonates most with Australians is Whitlam’s It’s time!, because it was original and it really was time – it wasn’t an empty mantra. The result of that is that, while people may invoke it, no one adopts or adapts it for re-use. That would be disrespectful.
Most politicians have a phrase that they lean on in this way, possibly to give them just that extra nanosecond to think about what they are going to say, possibly because they feel it gives their utterances more weight. Who can forget Rudd’s You know something? It is too early to tell what ScoMo will develop as a crutch although it probably won’t have anything to do with Fatman Scoop.
Politicians are always claiming to have been taken out of context. This is usually when they have said something they would rather not have said, or not have had leaked to the public. However outrageous the remark they neverless claim the ‘out of context’ defence as if black in the correct context could be revealed as white.
They also frequently claim to know What Australia wants. This is a carryover from commercial marketing where various products are produced in answer to Australia’s prayers. But one of my correspondents find this particularly irksome and would like every politician who makes this claim to be required to back it up with some evidence.
The term rhetoric in ancient culture referred to the artful and effective crafting of language to shape one’s thoughts, political or otherwise, for the edification of an appreciative audience. In modern times it has come to signify empty blather. Sadly the catchphrases of modern politicians are almost always examples of the latter.