Romney: wins in MI and NV “would be a pretty clear indication we were going on to win the White House”—on the poetry of file clerks

Here be his imperious aloofness, Willard Milton Romney himself, from a Romney campaign press release titled Governor Romney Addresses His Victory In Nevada And His Strategy To Strengthen The Economy

[…] “In the last week, that means that two of the battleground states have come out strongly for our campaign.

They’ve heard our message of change.

They’ve heard our message that Washington is broken, that we need to have the kind of change that will solve America’s problems.

Remarks:

Note what the hapless candidate thematizes (see our post script for what we mean by theme): “two battle ground states,” which gets pronominalized as “they” who heard our message of change etc., and “they” who heard our message that Washington is broke etc.

Note what the hapless candidate rhematizes: our campaign, and various messages.

The emphases are ours. Themes we have bolded.

Translation: We issued a message. Two battle ground states heard and agreed.

Michigan is Romney’s home state. Or one of his home states, and he promised Michigan voters a US$20 billion dollar bail out, only Romney wants to call it a “work out,” combined with a Washington-US automobile industry “partnership.”

Nevada was uncontested.

South Carolina, Romney’s first contest in a southern state, decided for Sen. McCain. Ominously, despite huge media buys that go back for months, despite having spent US$4 million (well in excess of any of his rivals), despite having camped out in the Palmetto State for 22 days, Romney came in fourth—fourth.

Back to Romney:

We won the primary together in Michigan, and we won this caucus process in Nevada.

Remarks:

An elaboration by way of specification. Romney now specifies which states (NV and MI) and by what processes (a primary and a caucus).

Note the abrupt change in point of view (POV), from “they” to “we.”

The “we” becomes the theme.

Back to Romney:

And if we were lucky enough to win Michigan and Nevada, that [combined victory] would be a pretty clear indication, in November of ’08 that is, that [combined victory] would be a pretty clear indication we were going on to win the White House.

Remarks:

Suddenly Romney shifts to a subjunctive mood and issues an if-then conditional clause.

If we were lucky enough?—Apparently we were lucky enough.

We only have one other state that would be keythat’s the state we happen to be in right now, which is Florida.

Remarks:

Florida.

Everything hinges on the sunshine state. Formerly all hopes rested on New Hampshire. Then it was surmised that Michigan would decide the issue of the GOP nomination. Then South Carolina. Now it is Florida.

The anticedent of that’s—the theme of the second clause is key, as in “the other state that would be key.”

South Carolina has disappeared.

If you can win those two states – Michigan and Nevada – it’d mean you’ve put together quite a coalition and have been able to make the kind of inroads you have to make to take the White House.

Remarks:

This line puzzles us. Note the shift in point of view from we to you. If you—that is, you being anyone?—if “one” can do x, then one has done “y”? Is this like a box that you need to check, an item on a to-do list?

The “you”—we would argue—is not “you” the listener. The “you” appears to be rival campaigns, or any campaign, or any hypothetical campaign that can win Michigan and Nevada.

This line repeats like a refrain the earlier if-then proposition of a Nevada and Michigan win only it attaches to a more elaborated conclusion: this “indicates” not simply the White House, this indicates that have developed a “coalition” that can “make the kind of inroads you have to make” to win the White House.

Yeah, only Romney has no coalition. He had tried to fashion himself the heir of the Reagan coalition with no success. 

He has no natural base.

His wins in MI and NV earned him nothing in SC.

It’s huge for us and we’re very, very pleased […]

Remark:

We shift back again to “us,” to “we”.

Romney-oratory fascinates us. It is at once vapid and impoverished—like the prose version of a bulleted list—-yet almost dreamlike in its jarring shifts, strange associations, and jagged-edged dissonances, like the poetry of a file clerk.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. The theme (or topic) of a sentence or clause is what a sentence or clause is about. It is often but not always the grammatical subject. The theme is usually given information.

The rheme (or object or predicate) of a sentence is the information that links to or elaborates on the theme. The rheme is usually new information.

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