How To Interpret Political Language

Do you ever marvel at people who are adept at never giving a direct answer to a question when being interviewed? Some public figures are masters of the craft.

Consider this model interview. Katie leans forward and holding up a red rose asks in sincere tones, “Is this a red rose?” There it is in living color, a red rose. A simple yes or no will answer the question with clarity and transparency.

The interviewee responds, “When I was a child my mother grew red roses. If I’m elected, I’ll see that every mother gets appropriate subsidies in growing red roses. Red roses are uplifting for mothers as well as children. They are good for the economy and I am a proponent of a good economy. Mothers can expect my support in their efforts to grow red roses.”

Dummy, is the rose in question red? Elusive answers more extreme that this are given daily. The practice of evasiveness is so obvious there must be a conspiracy. Well, there is.

In William Safire’s book, “Leadership,” he quotes Robert L. Woodrum who gives advice to people planning to hold a press conference.

His diverse clients include such persons as the new president of an organization, a candidate for office, the executive of a company involved in a legal matter, a pastor speaking out on a controversial issue, a lawyer defending a client, and others. Here is his advice:

“Prepare/rehearse. You set the agenda. Before meeting with the
press, you determine your objectives. Write down the two or three
main points you want to make and stick to them during the interview.
Anticipate the tough questions and practice your answers with your

“When asked a question by a reporter remember ‘Answer the
question you wish you had been asked.’ Make the points you
want to make and stick to your agenda.”

Now we know. The crafty art is actually taught news makers. They are tutored to be evasive, non-responsive, and diversionary. Listeners need to understand what those who have mastered the craft well are doing.

A second thing a listener needs to keep in mind is that skill should not be equated with intellect. Singers, athletes, actors and actresses, authors and their genre are often interviewed as “authorities.” The IQ of some is slightly below the January temperature in Nome, Alaska. They have no reason to be interviewed on many subjects other than their skill in a rather limited field. It is their persona not their proficiency related to the subject that gets them the interview.

These two factors involving news makers results in the public being overly informed though not well informed.

The sage wisdom lifted from the pages of the New Testament would change news. It simply states, “Let your “Yes be Yes,” and your “No,’ “No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

This is not an admonition to use only these words in responding but to be clear, cursory, and correct. With that in mind: “That’s all folks.”