Today, our country faces an inflection point where our course must change if we are to meet unprecedented challenges here at home and abroad,” writes Romney himself (presumably) in a redstate.com post titled Change Begins With Us

An inflection point?—say what!?

An inflection point is a point on a curve at which the sign of the curvature (i.e., the concavity) changes. Inflection points may be stationary points, but are not relative maxima or relative minima. For example, for the curve y==x^3 plotted above, the point x==0 is an inflection pointmore

We are at “a point on a curve at which the sign of the curvature changes?”—huh?—is this an inspiring metaphor in some niche community? Who does Romney presume is his audience?

As we have always done, the American people will rise to the occasion. But at this critical time, Washington is failing us.

Romney: We will rise. But Washington is failing us. (Wait. Does this mean that we won’t rise after all?) Romney warms to his theme by means of a distinction: by Washington he means the parties, Democrats and Republicans.

The blame for Washington’s failures lies not just with the Democrats but with Republicans as well. We have to put our own house in order. We can no longer be a party of big spenders with ethical standards more fitting of a Jay Leno punch line. We can no longer pretend our borders are secure. When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses. It’s time for change in Washington and change begins with us.

Romney: Republicans share the blame for Washington’s failures. Our house is out of order. We spend too much. Our ethical standards are low. We pretend that our borders are secure. Hence: we are behaving like Democrats. Conclusion: we must change, and change begins with us—and by us Romney means Republicans—only Romney means some but not all Republicans, because Romney qualifies the term Republican with the prepositional phrase for change.

Romney enlarges on his distinction of Republicans as opposed to Republicans for Change by using it to introduce the topics of the next 7 paragraphs. The topics are:

  • limited government
  • fiscal responsibility
  • strength
  • ethical standards
  • civility and respect
  • tackling big problems, which for Romney is a way of introducing the War on Terror, which Romney articulates as checking the “spread of radical, violent Jihadism.”
  • protecting families from obscenity, pornography, child predators etc.

The list resembles a series of power-point slides. This is argument by catalogue or bullet points. And: These are all Republican core issues. Here is the problem: the list of issues Romney develops here are not the issues that Romney is running on, at least not on the stump, and at least not according to Mary Jacoby of WSJ.com in a release titled Romney Tries to Show Voters He ‘Gets It,’ a release we commented on earlier.

Jacoby describes Romney as attempting to argue for center-left issues, e.g. healthcare, education, and economic security, in the idiom of the center-right. Hence Romney “can sound at times part Rush Limbaugh, part Bill Clinton, braiding red-meat conservative lines with feel-your-pain prescriptions for health care and retirement security“—translation: Romney “can sound” incoherent.

Romney digresses from his values list to propose “easy to engage” content “filters” on computers to protect our children from the “culture that surrounds them,” a culture that happens to be our culture, before Romney returns again to Republicans for Change on the concluding topics of faith and patriotism. (Note to Romney: we like, nay, we love our culture; we are, after all, cultural conservatives. What e.g. porn sites purvey is not culture, Mr. Romney.)

American patriotism is why I am convinced this nation will always prevail as the greatest hope of the earth. America faces unprecedented challenges, a virtual perfect storm buffeting the pillars of our strength. The course of our history will change. For America to remain the great nation it has always been, it will look to Republicans for leadership.

A “perfect storm” “buffets” our “pillars”? What an interesting image. The “course of history” will change, like a ship. Question: What happened to Washington?—the Washington that was failing us? What happened to our point of inflection—we will be able to halt or arrest the turn of the curve? Is this what Romney means by course changing?

If we read Romney’s composition correctly—and we are not by any means confident that we are—Republicans for Change, with whom the reader is invited to identify, stand as the antithesis to Republicans who behave like Democrats, bogus Republicans who e.g. spend too much, pretend as if our borders are secure. In other words, for Romney the crisis is effectively one of blurred distinctions; we cannot tell the Republicans from the Democrats; one behaves like the other. Hence Romney addresses in Perelman’s terms an elite as opposed to a general or universal audience—in this case, an imagined vanguard of Republicans who are genuine as opposed to nominal Republicans, a dissociation of the term Republican into the real and the apparent.

The argument is functionally identical to a rationale or an alibi. Many Republicans may oppose us, the Romney supporter is invited to rationalize: but real Republicans support us. Hence: raw numbers, or the actual non-performance of the ailing Romney campaign, fails to tell the real story. To dissociate the real from the apparent is often the instrument of the scold as it so easily issues into a double bind, e.g. “if you really loved me … “—blaming and scolding is emerging as Romney’s preferred idiom, see:

Romney’s language of blame indicates a personality that believes itself powerless and uncared for

Also: Continetti of the Weekly Standard demonstrates how the Romney message lacks moral courage in that it affects to criticize the GOP on grounds that any Republican or conservative would heartily agree with. Hence, what masquerades as a critique is in affect an empty, epideictic display.

Romney the scold of the GOP (ii); Continetti: Romney hates fake people

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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