A notable figure

Love him or hate him, Lyndon Johnson was President of the U.S. during an important time in our country’s history. I have (quite distantly, mind you) some odd links to Johnson:

I. While serving in the Army (as a Chaplain Asst.) during 1987-1990, we took a field trip to Johnson City, Texas to visit his childhood home. Just off the front porch, there was a long bench, cut at a right angle where his mother (who taught Speech) would lecture her students. Johnson gave his first political speech while standing on that porch to a gathering of people. Reportedly, when he turned around (seeking a nod of approval from his mother), she said, ‘If your speaking doesn’t get any better than that, you’ll never go anywhere in politics.’

II. During the early 1990’s, I worked part-time at a nursing home located near the campus of Tyler Junior College. One of our patients there, a very smart elderly lady who’d worked many years as a school teacher said her sister went to college with Johnson. She told me numerous times how her sister joked that Johnson never had a pencil when he came to class, and would have to bum one from his classmates.

III. Some time after that, while working for a mental health agency in Tyler, I worked with a guy who was the Director of Operations for the Peace Corps in Micronesia during the late 60’s. Johnson was VERY DEVOTED to the Peace Corps. This guy mentioned a time when Johnson was on a huge recruitment push for them and told one of their top brass during a big meeting, ‘Over the next two days, when I walk past your office, I’d better see a phone up to your ear.’

All, this to say:  this article  rings LOUDLY with me.  We (and yes, I mean WE) talk about Donald Trump’s braggadocio and what-not, but Johnson (devout Democrat) was no wall flower!

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Trump: ‘Poprocks’ for the ears!

Here you can read the entirety of an article in The Washington Post about Donald Trump’s use of language………an INCREDIBLY well-written effort….perfectly fascinating.

 

Below, you’ll find a small excerpt:

“Second, their sentences take on a higher number of subordinate clauses and qualifying phrases — “over the last several years,” “in general,” “in effect,” “what people are telling me,” and so on. This is the kind of language you use when you’re aware that your words might be misinterpreted or used against you.

When used well, it conveys competence and assures listeners that the speaker thinks coherent thoughts and holds reasonable positions. It suggests that the speaker cares about the truth of his claims. But politicians are frequently too careful with their language, and this conscientiousness can begin to sound like deceit or cowardice. When they rely too heavily on abstractions, when they avoid concrete nouns, when all their statements seem always hedged by qualifying phrases, they sound like politicians, in the worst sense of the word. To my ear, anyway, Hillary Clinton sounds this way almost all the time.

Whether used well or poorly, however, the language of a typical modern politician has a distinctive sound to it. It sounds complex and careful — sometimes sophisticated, sometimes emotive, sometimes artificial or over-scripted, but always circumspect and inevitably disingenuous.

Trump’s language is from another rhetorical tradition entirely. Consider his hour-long media availability on Sept. 3, just after he’d signed a “loyalty pledge” that he wouldn’t run as a third-party candidate if he loses the GOP nomination. Some of his answers last only a few seconds, some are slightly longer, but almost all consist of simple sentences, grammatically and conceptually, and most of them withhold their most important word or phrase until the very end. Trump’s sentences end with a pop, and he seems to know instinctively where to put the emphasis in each one.”