Columnist Project 3
The next time I ask for a recommendation for a columnist, I will not preface the question with, “Do you know anyone whose ideals and opinions are the complete opposite of mine?” However, that is exactly how I posed my question to my teacher, when trying to figure out which columnist I should follow for five long weeks. George Will was exactly that man. I am a liberal, he is conservative. I like Barack Obama, he John McCain. I would rather not stereotype people, or judge and unfortunately I can not say the same for Will. His articles are very consistent. He sticks to politics, employing strategies like logos and parenthesis, and his argument always contains a fallacy. Overall Will’s subject matter can be found elsewhere, not only more objectively, but also with better analysis.
George Will is published in the Washington Post’s Opinions and Editorial section where he writes about politics. The topics of his articles mainly consist of domestic affairs. Usually his articles revolve around the slip ups of Democratic presidential hopefuls while simultaneously glorifying, the Republican candidate John McCain. In the past five weeks alone four of his five topics have been about the presidential race or the difference between democrats and republicans. In “Mark Penn’s Transgress” (Article 3) Will critiques Hillary Clintons “democratic ideals” as well as how she is running her campaign. In order to be fair, in Article 4, “Candidate on a High Horse” Will criticizes the way Barack Obama is running his race. His other article comments on the education system, and how because of it, or the lack thereof, it has failed American students. Will’s article mainly appeal to conservatives and the “new right“ youth. He appeals to them by using two main rhetorical strategies.
Two of the most oft-used strategies found in Will’s articles are logos and parenthesis. He uses both of these strategies to keep the reader involved in the text as well as further his points. Will weaves a number of different sources, data, and other statistics in to his article offering not only a factual basis for his opinion but stylistic variety. In his article “Bleeding Hearts but Tight Fists” Will utilizes a bulleted list from Social Scientist Arthur C. Brooks. Each piece of data goes to support his claim, which in this particular case, was the fact that conservatives are more giving than liberals. With this list he adds credibility to his argument as well as prove his claim. In the third article I read, “Mark Penn’s Transgression” Will uses logos as a persuasive device. He employs the strategy throughout the article to convince the reader that a Columbian American Treaty would result in a mutually beneficial relationship. To further his points he uses statistics and quotes synthesized from different aspects of Barack Obama’s campaign. Once again Will’s use of Logos the convincing factor in his argument. Logos is Will’s “go to” strategy because it is so effective for him. Somehow he manages to synthesize all of this data to heighten and solidify his point.
Will’s use of parenthesis offers a little break in his factual and conservative articles. In “Education Lessons We Left Behind” Will’s use of parenthesis serves a dual purpose. The first to add information. When describing the 1966 Coleman report on education he explains where his use of the word “seismic” came from, “reached a conclusion so “seismic--Moynihan’s Description-- that the government almost refused.” Another use of parenthesis that will utilizes is to add his inner thoughts or asides into the text, “ the crucial common denominator of problems of race and class--fractured families--would have to be faced.” Here he can really clarify his point without out adding an extra sentence that would lack style and be too obvious. Once again he employs parenthesis in article 2, “McCain’s Housing Restraint” not necessarily because the information is needed, but to add clarity and comment about the situation. In this example he glorifies McCain saying, “But it is John McCain’s policy--these things are relative--that merits compliments.” When combined with logos, parenthesis makes a convincing argument allowing for a break in the usual sentence structure and the occasional witty comment. Ultimately, Will uses these two strategies to keep the brain entertained as he attempts to persuade his audience down a path of conservatism. Unfortunately, Will’s arguments contain many fallacies that detract from his point thus making him a less effective communicator.
The fact that there is hardly a column with out a single fallacy is the main reason that Will falls short of truly being an effective columnist. His main point is not necessarily like that of others--to research and explore topics of interest, think along the lines of Rosa Brooks-- instead it seems as though he would rather try to rave about McCain’s political agenda. Even when Will is trying to show objectivity with the use of logos, there is always a fallacy to negate his argument. An example being in the third article, “Mark Penn’s Transgression” Even though Will did appeal to the readers logic, he also used composition whereby he grouped all of the characteristics of a group of people, the Democrats, and transferred them to a single person of that group, “That is the only way Democrats can do sensible things…” he says of reasoning why Hillary Clinton fired Mark Penn. In a later article Will reverts back to the use of fallacy, composition once again, when commenting on unruly adolescents. He describes them as “males usually coming out of “broken families.” Now while this maybe stereotyped from statistics that Will manipulated, his use of composition makes him seem ignorant about the situation by just associating all of these social problems and problems with the education system on the fact that these boys were born out of “broken families.” This truly is Will’s downfall. His arguments are not entirely convincing as a result of these fallacies. This is in part because they make him seem less credible and knowledgeable. When Will, highlights the great aspects of John McCain’s presidential campaign and then refers to the democrats as a group of idiots, it devalues his argument. Instead of using more logic or another form of rhetorical device to portray the flaws of the democrats, he uses composition as an easy way out.
Even though I will not be reading and analyzing anymore of George Will’s articles, he will still be writing away about the crimes the Democrats commit and how we need to find a “new right.” His articles will be convincing to some who would like someone to feed them statistics. However a keen reader will notice Will’s fallacy filled arguments and click on to one of Rosa Brook’s or Megan Daum’s articles.