Rush’s Rhetoric

Yesterday at the end of his show Rush Limbaugh engaged a caller on “what makes Netanyahu Netanyahu.” The substance of the question was one on which Rush could speak with some authority: what makes Netanyahu such an excellent communicator? Rush gave a hint: “It begins with a P.”
The caller guessed “principled” and “proud.” Not wrong, but not right either. Rush’s answer is “passion.” He elaborated:

It is passion that allows Netanyahu to animate those principles, to bring them to life. His beliefs, his policies, his ability to conduct himself as he did in the Oval Office or yesterday at the joint meeting of Congress. It’s the passion that he believes, the passion for his beliefs — the desire to shout them from the mountaintop, the desire to be understood, the desire for nobody to be confused after they’ve heard him speak. But it is passion, excitement, eagerness, good cheer. Passion is what brings all of the ingredients to life, and it is passion that is the magnet that draws people to you. I mean, if you listen to two schlubs talk about bowling in a passionate way, they own you. Passion is the key.

Closing the show, Rush even associated himself with Netanyahu:

You know what Netanyahu means in Hebrew? Netanyahu means, in Hebrew, “Gift of the Lord.” Or: “Talent on loan from God.”

Rush on rhetoric sent me back to Aristotle on rhetoric. Rush is, of course, on to something.
Rush formulated his comments on Netanyahu’s rhetoric as a guide to Republicans. Here I would like to give the last word, for the moment, to Abraham Lincoln:

It is an old and a true maxim, that a “drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great high road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause really be a just one.

The Democrats excel in the drop of honey department. It’s Lincoln’s proviso that is the killer. Republicans need to think about that drop of honey.

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