What’s Gone Wrong With The Language of Politics?
Nov 11, · Rehm’s ability to conduct interesting, insightful interviews made her show an international success broadcasted by more than radio stations and heard by more than two million listeners. Over the years, Rehm’s voice has changed dramatically, culminating in the diagnosis of spasmodic dysphonia in Spasmodic Dysphonia is a voice disorder characterized by involuntary . Diane Rehm’s new film, “When My Time Comes,” looks at the arguments for and against medical aid in dying. Rehm spoke with The Washington Post about how her husband’s death spurred her into.
Guest Host: A. Public anger against conventional politicians and their parties is on the rise across the Western world. In Europe, right-wing, populist candidates are winning state-wide elections.
And here in the U. Guest host A. Enough Said by wamu on Scribd. I'm A. Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump praise him for telling it like it is and being authentic. In the UK, the Brexit campaign prevailed despite great efforts by mainstream politicians. MARTINEZ He warns the rejection of expertise and the digital revolution are damaging our political discourse and it'll have disastrous consequences for policy-making. Mark, welcome.
That's Send us your email at drshow wamu. Or you can join us on Facebook or Twitter. Now, Mark, typically when us radio folk do these book interviews, we have the person that wrote the book read from the book. But I'm going to do something a little different. I want to read from your book. Is that okay if I do that for you, Mark? You'll do it in the right accent as well. And I promise there is a point to this. So hopefully, I'll get to it eventually.
Now, here it is. And the result, peace, prosperity, progress, inequality, prejudice, persecution, war. Public language matters. This is hardly a new discovery. It's why public language and public speaking have been studied and taught and fought over for thousands of years. Words hurdle through virtual space with infinitesimal delay. A politician can plant an idea in 10 million other minds before she leaves the podium.
I immediately thought of Hillary Clinton. I don't know. Was that an exercise to see exactly what kind of idea would be planted in my head? Now, of course, it could be Theresa May in the UK. I thought maybe it was a -- because it was so early in the book, I thought, oh, is he trying something on me right here and now?
So I do think -- I think how Hillary Clinton speaks, her style, what she's trying to achieve and how Donald Trump speaks, his style, what he's trying to achieve, I think do illustrate many of the themes of the book. Explain crisis of trust. In other words, when people are asked a series of measures of trust in politicians, not just in the United States, but in the UK and in many, many, probably most Western countries, there's real evidence of -- what are emeralds used for everyone, but many, many how to study for b tech exams distrusting politicians and what they say.
And also, a yawning gap -- Adelman does an annual trust survey and one of the things it shows is a yawning gap between the levels of trust expressed by elites, by the most educated, most prosperous people in different countries and the public at large. THOMPSON And the biggest gap of trust, do you trust politicians, the gap between the level of trust expressed by elites and, as it were, ordinary voters, the gap is greatest and widening in the U.
I mean, is that something new, not trusting politicians? THOMPSON I mean, one thing I say in the book is I'm not claiming there was some kind of garden of Eden, some sort of golden age where politicians were always nice to each and explained policy carefully and the public just applauded as they did what does ncqa accreditation mean. We've always had a distrust and, frankly, I suspect a health skepticism about political language and what politicians say.
In countries as diverse as the United States and Italy, we're seeing the rise of, you know, political figures who are explicitly anti-politicians.
They don't come from a political background. They've never previously held political office. Often, for example, Beppe Grillo in Italy, they create a brand new political party. Grillo is a stand-up comedian by what is wrong with diane rehm. They actually -- that becomes their appeal and the fact that they're overturning conventions, they're saying the unsayable, they are bunching all of the mainstream politicians together and dismissing them all, becomes part of their appeal.
And I thought it was very striking in the early stages of the primary process that Donald Trump, essentially, wasn't particularly distinguishing between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. He's like, well, they all say the same thing. It's just a matter of how they say it.
So I'm wondering how maybe public language shapes how much we have that crisis of trust in your heads. Now, what is wrong with diane rehm must be said, many people, particularly people on the left often like to think of language as a superficial and kind of not very important lair and that what really matters is ideology and policy, you know, what are the substantive political ideas the different political parties and individual political leaders are offering.
But actually, if you think about it for a moment, all political ideas are expressed when they're shared between human beings, which is what how to make gum paste flowers step by step have to do in a democracy.
And to me, expression, the expression of particular ideas and the ideas themselves are all tangled up and manifestly, right now, in this country, the electoral cycle is significantly about language.
You mentioned Donald Trump's success at being thought of as someone who "tells it like it is. Until quite recently, the policy platform has been actually very broad brush of a small number of very strong, very simple ideas, but not really a detailed policy thing.
So voters -- he's invited voters really to judge him on whether they believe what he says and believe, as it were, his stance as a different kind of political leader.
And the critique of him, the critique from Hillary Clinton and, more broadly, from the left, indeed the -- as it were, more mainstream elements in the Republican party, again, has been very strongly focused around the fact that he doesn't tell the truth, that he exaggerates, that what he says is completely unacceptable because it's so extreme, it's so insulting.
In how things are said? THOMPSON Well, and essentially whether or not -- I mean, to me, Donald Trump has presented himself who speaks like ordinary people speak, not in a political code, not in a carefully focused group turned kind of carefully precooked manner, but off-the-cuff in a very human, immediate way.
And he's saying, I speak -- he's saying to the American public, I speak the way you speak. I think the way you what happened in selma alabama in march of 1965. And this is a way of THOMPSON I think it's very interesting that he has -- obviously not for everyone, but for a significant number, for tens of millions of Americans, notwithstanding the wealth, maybe because of the wealth because he's presented himself as a self-made success story.
The simplicity of what he's said, his unwillingness to grapple with complexity, the fact what is wrong with diane rehm he's obviously, you what is wrong with diane rehm, much of the time has been just saying what's come into his head, all of these things he's used to try and build up a picture of authenticity.
THOMPSON Now, I'm very careful in my book to distinguish between, as it were, authenticity itself and something I call authenticism, which is a deliberate political attempt to present yourself as authentic. And I think the difference between authenticism and real authenticity, what is wrong with diane rehm the truth, I mean, obviously depends on your political views. But those two things are not automatic. If somebody says, I'm really authentic, I really do tell it like it is, that doesn't mean you should automatically believe them when they say that.
His words seemingly connect with a wide swath of people, I how to create a puzzle in photoshop, from all different parts. And, you know, when you consider his background, where he came from, how he came up, it is a little surprising that the words he uses what is ems in shipping public seemingly have this connection.
You know, he's lived for many years in the kind of hot house of New York and New York media. Years ago, he was almost weekly phoning individual journalists, spinning influencing coverage of different aspects of his business and of his personal life.
He rose to national prominence at least in part as the star of a reality show. And the beats, the style, the humor that goes with a certain kind of reality television, reaching many, many millions of American viewers and that means millions of American voters, I think he's had quite a sophisticated training in a certain kind of very direct language. Our guest is Mark Thompson. My guest is Mark Thompson. Previously he was director-general for -- of the BBC. And he's got a new book out.
MARTINEZ And Mark, one of the things that you mentioned in the book about the unraveling of public language, what we hear from our politicians, the people that we're deciding on who to vote into office, is that, you know, that this unraveling began with the health care debate about seven years ago. So explain -- explain what you mean by unraveling seven years ago. One was in the United States, a Democrat president, Barack Obama, trying to reform health care in this country.
Literally a few months later, a parallel process took place in the United What is wrong with diane rehm, but this time it was a conservative-led government trying to reform the National Health Service. And in how do home projectors work UK, the critics came from the left. But I was very struck by how similar some of the tactics were from the critics. And they were trying -- health care is a monstrously complicated subject.
Any reform of any modern Western health care system is going to be -- is going to how to repair internet connection to hundreds and thousands of pages of legislation. THOMPSON And the critics were trying to figure out ways of just cutting through the complexity and landing significant political points, almost like a kind of, you know, a kind of armor-piercing bullet hitting its target.
And I was particularly struck by Sarah Palin's phrase the death panels. This referred to a very obscure argument in the legislation at the time about end-of-life counseling, about whether there should be essentially government support via Medicare for counseling of older people on what level of medical intervention they want in the last days and weeks of their lives. Suddenly death panels focused -- and the death panels, it's only two words, which means it's incredibly what is the security code for nokia 206 to put behind a news anchor or to put in a strip at the what is wrong with diane rehm of a cable TV channel.
I mean, it's a -- it's a -- arguably an extremely cynical compression of language, but it's effective. And what it really says is Barack Obama and the federal government are going to set up panels of bureaucrats to call members of the public in front of them to decide who lives and who dies.
So it's almost a reference to kind of death camps and the selections in death camps. THOMPSON It kind of conjures up an Orwellian, dystopic future where, you know, you've lost all control of your and your family's health care, and it's all decided by government bureaucrats in white coats who are running through the population and deciding on the base of their own whim who should live and who shouldn't.
But it's all wrapped up in these two words, and it made a big difference. I mean, at the time, the end-of-life counseling clauses were removed from the legislation, and it made a very significance to the debate. They realized this was a really dangerous kind of meme running, and they tried to debunk it. But I think one of the curious and interesting things, and it felt new inand I think much has happened since to reinforce it, is that debunking death panels had the unintended consequence of further propagating as a phrase, and suddenly debunking it and saying it's not true almost began to legitimize it as a kind of debating point, and it actually I think had the effect of magnifying and extending its expression across U.
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Her most recent, On My Own, is about the long, drawn-out death (from Parkinson disease) of her husband of 54 years and her struggle to reconstruct her life without him. Following is an edited transcript of the conversation that took place between Collins and Rehm on . Jun 16, · Donald Trump’s critics claim his presidency has eroded democratic institutions in this country. But veteran political journalist John Dickerson says even before , the highest office in the land was in trouble.. The 60 Minutes correspondent argues Americans don’t ask the right questions of presidential candidates before going to the polls; he says our expectations of our leaders is. Diane Rehm is one of the most respected radio journalists of our time. Listen to her podcast “On My Mind.” Explore the Diane Rehm Show archives. Learn about Diane’s upcoming appearances.
Nationally acclaimed public-radio talk-show host Diane Rehm is used to asking all the questions. The Diane Rehm Show features thoughtful and lively conversations with newsmakers, authors, and experts of all kinds. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture.
Collins played host and asked all the questions—his own as well as ones that other NIHers had sent him in advance. She was soon hired as an assistant producer and later became the host and producer of two health-oriented programs. She is also the author of several books. Her most recent, On My Own , is about the long, drawn-out death from Parkinson disease of her husband of 54 years and her struggle to reconstruct her life without him. Following is an edited transcript of the conversation that took place between Collins and Rehm on April 7, , in Masur Auditorium Building How did it all start?
I was recruited to other jobs and ended up as secretary at the U. Department of State. One day a brash young man [John Rehm] with a crew cut, blond hair, and broad shoulders walked in.
Somerset Maugham, and we started talking about them. I wanted to learn. John was a Renaissance man who taught me so much about music, history, literature, and science. He had a fabulous education and literally became my teacher [and later my husband]. REHM: After staying at home for 14 years raising two wonderful children, I realized they would soon be gone. My husband had his career, but what was I going to do? Within two weeks of finishing that course, a friend of mine said she was volunteering at the tiny little station—WAMU—on the campus of American University [Washington, D.
So I decided to volunteer too. On my very first day, the talk-show host was out sick. The manager was going to do the program and invited me into the studio to help. For 90 minutes we interviewed a representative of the Dairy Council. I was so excited at having had this opportunity and I had asked some challenging questions.
My mother died from liver cancer when I was 19, and my father died of a broken heart 11 months after my mother passed away. I wanted to know why, and there were no answers. REHM: By being concise. Your career as a radio host depends on your voice, which was afflicted by a rare condition called spasmodic dysphonia. How did you deal with that? It started with a cough, a tiny little cough.
I went from doctor to doctor to doctor, all of whom kept putting tubes down my throat. I think the insertion of those tubes did not help my condition. The last day I was on the air was in February I told my boss that I had to find out what was wrong with my voice.
I sat at home for four months, not answering the phones, not speaking to anyone except my husband. Then my wonderful internist referred me to neurologist Dr. Stephen Reich and otolaryngologist Dr. Paul Flint at Johns Hopkins [Baltimore]. Within one hour they said I had spasmodic dysphonia and gave me a botulinum toxin Botox injection in my vocal chords.
Then slowly, slowly they begin to vibrate and I could speak again. What could have been different? The doctor suggested that if John was absolutely determined, he could help himself by stopping food, water, and medication. So John stopped eating, drinking, and taking his medicines.
He said he felt great, and I know why—he felt as though he had taken his life back into his own hands. For the next two days, he was fine. His face looked pink, he looked wonderful, and then at the end of the second day he fell asleep and he never woke again. For 10 days I saw that man lying there helplessly.
I think this country had been death averse until Oregon passed its Death with Dignity law, then Washington State, then Vermont, and now California. We have to talk more openly about death and about what we want at the end of life. I think there is so much to talk about and so much for the doctors to learn about listening to the patient about what the patient wants and how best you can make that happen.
I will be talking a great deal about the Right to Die after I step away from the microphone [when I retire at the end of the year], without crossing any lines. I thought 80 was a good time to make the change. The J. Skip to main content. Nurturing the Next Generation of Clinical Researchers. Application Details. Download this issue as a PDF.