Rejected Drafts to Obama’s Inaugural Address

On January 21, 2013, in America, Barack Obama, Government, History, Language, President, Rhetoric, U.S. Constitution, by Derrick G. Jeter

Inaugural addresses don’t just write themselves. And are rarely written by the person delivering the address. Typically, inaugural speeches are written by a team, overseen by a head speechwriter. How involved the president-elect or reelected president is in the crafting of words depends on personality and time. Before words stain the page, however, broad themes […]

Which Is to be Master?

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” [1] On August […]

Down the Rabbit Hole: A Look at the Biden-Ryan Vice Presidential Debate

On October 12, 2012, in America, Future, Government, Language, Leadership, Lying, Politics, President, Rhetoric, Ronald Reagan, Taxes, Terrorism, Truth, by Derrick G. Jeter

I lived tweeted the Vice Presidential debate last night. My first tweet as Joe Biden and Paul Ryan took the stage: “Grinning Joe. He’s a nut but you can’t help but like Joe.” Well, that is until Joe takes on the appearance of Alice’s Cheshire Cat—“we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” Commenting on […]

September Surprise

On September 6, 2012, in America, Barack Obama, Culture, God, Government, History, Language, Leadership, Philosophy, Politics, Power, President, Rhetoric, by Derrick G. Jeter

The rough and tumble of American politics has a long and rocky history. But modern American politics has added a new twist of the knife to what is often called America’s “blood sport”—the October Surprise. So fearful are campaigns, especially presidential campaigns, that a shocking revelation about a their candidate will break on the news […]

Silence Communicates More than Declaration

On September 5, 2012, in America, Belief, Culture, Faith, Freedom, God, Government, History, Language, Leadership, Patriotism, Politics, Postmodernism, by Derrick G. Jeter

Words have meaning. And so does the absence of words . . . the white space between words. This is especially true when the white space is created by deleting words. The 2012 Democratic National Convention convened this week under a controversy. Two words that were formerly imbedded into the party platform were struck from […]

A Baker’s Dozen of Style

On August 16, 2012, in Books, Language, Literature, Writing, by Derrick G. Jeter

“Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Isn’t that encouraging? Writing is more than sweating blood of course, but it certainly is that. I suppose you already know about the terror and strain of staring at a blank piece […]

Beautiful Violence: Cormic McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”

On July 5, 2012, in Books, Culture, Evil, Language, Literature, War, by Derrick G. Jeter

Artistic ugliness. Beautiful violence. This is what passed through my mind as I read Cormic McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. His brilliance as a stylist is unsurpassed as a twentieth-century American novelist. The rich beauty of his language in depicting unlovely characters who lived during unlovely times and engaged in unlovely exploits is both engrossing and gross. […]

Ding Dong, the Hitch is Dead

On December 17, 2011, in Belief, Books, Christianity, Culture, Death, Faith, God, Language, Literature, Salvation, Truth, by Derrick G. Jeter

When I learned of Christopher Hitchens’s death on Thursday evening (December 15, 2011), I remarked to a friend: “Well, now he knows.” I did not intended my comment as triumphalism of faith over atheism—as in “he got what was coming to him” or in “he got what he deserved.” Though true Hitchens presumably (for I […]

Newspeak and the Controllers of Thought

On October 5, 2011, in Culture, Education, Freedom, Language, Literature, by Derrick G. Jeter

Ours is a euphemizing culture. Words no longer mean what they mean. Oh, to be sure, many of our euphemisms are harmless: custodian for “janitor,” correctional facility for “prison,” a little thin on top for “balding.” But some euphemisms are more troubling. For example, “torture” is now enhanced interrogation; “the war on terror” is now […]

The Lincoln-Like Obama? Let’s Hear Him First

At the beginning of the political season, few foresaw that the relatively unknown man from Illinois could have won the presidency. Those who heard him speak readily conceded that he was articulate and charismatic, but opposition to his nomination was formidable, having to run against battle-hardened warhorses. And in the unlikely event that he won […]