Michelle Malkin and her big mouth

While I was doing a little background research for my recent posting on Brigitte Gabriel I came across another outspoken American woman – a self-proclaimed “big mouth”.  My not having previously come across her is evidence that the Atlantic is still quite wide.

I have been having fun, watching several speeches by Michelle Malkin and trying to choose which to cover. This one is the longest, this perhaps the most temperate and measured, but I chose this one. She is speaking at a dinner in her honour where she was presented with the second annual Breitbart Award. The hosts are the Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center for government and public integrity

In the first few seconds it emerges that she has been up since 2 a.m. and has drunk lots of coffee. My interest quickens, because an element of peripheral stress can bust the hump and often adds edge to a speech. Also if the way she tells us of the coffee is a guide, this lady is going to tell it like it is by way of a polished repertoire of speaking devices.

I am not disappointed: she’s very good. Yes, of course she’s shooting from the hip – all good speakers do – but there’s more. Look at that beautiful claptrap at 5:45. She hits the word “fight” paying particular attention to the “t” and immediately looks down. The audience applause comes bang on cue. There are plenty more successful claptraps. Yes I know she’s among friends, but still she’s playing the audience brilliantly.

And those pauses! She creates great gaping holes in the soundtrack which serve to heighten our interest in what’s coming next.

She’s a hell of a good communicator. Because I have now watched a great many of her speeches and interviews I have seen how well she either varies her style and rhythm to the prevailing decorum or – more often – creates her own to suit the occasion.

Her self-deprecating self-description “big mouth” is a bit of fun. She’s worked very hard at her speaking skill, which is fairly unusual among writers who too often regard speaking as merely a subdivision of writing. It is not: it is different in very many ways. I salute her.

Jim DeMint displays personable warmth

On 22 May 2015 – just a couple of weeks after the UK General Election – the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) presented their Edmund Burke Award to Jim DeMint, President of the Heritage Foundation. Daniel Hannan, Secretary-General of the AECR Board, having made the presentation DeMint opened his acceptance speech with a comment addressed to him.

“Daniel, if I could only speak with as much fire and passion as you can…”

I wish I could watch the speech to which he refers. A handful of weeks ago I was complaining that Dan Hannan didn’t put enough fire and passion into his speaking.

DeMint’s principal failing in this speech is familiar to all regulars of this blog. He is reading it. Every fault in the flow is caused by that alone. Whenever he inserts an ad lib ‘aside’ his fluency leaps up. His nervousness at the beginning (what I call The Hump) is prolonged way beyond its natural life simply because of his adherence to that script. He could easily throw it away. He doesn’t know he could, but he could. His engagement with his audience and his enjoyment of the whole process would soar.

DeMint is personable. He addresses his audience with a quiet warmth that is appealing. This causes me to reflect upon a particular dissonance in politics.

The left claim the high moral ground, declaring they represent the philosophy of love and care. They portray the right as hating and uncaring. Only last week in Britain we saw video footage of delegates and press arriving at the Conservative Party Conference, and having to run a gauntlet of screaming, shouting, and spitting. I can never remember the equivalent happening to arrivals at a conference of a left-wing party. So who here is displaying hate?

DeMint is a leading member of the Tea Party movement, whose central philosophy is one of low tax, small government and individual freedom and responsibility. Yet the image painted by their political opponents is one of raging racism and hate. I invite you to watch this man speak, listen to what he says, and try to spot the raging racism and hate. If you fail to find any of either, what does that tell you about those who accuse him?

All those I have met who share his political persuasion also share a belief in people. They want them to have more control over their own lives, trusting them to live up to that responsibility. Does that sound like hate to you?

Mark Steyn, Islam, Europe and free speech

The blurb accompanying the YouTube video of today’s speech gives us little information other than it is an old bit of film, that its subject is “Islam and the end of Europe“, and the speaker is Mark Steyn. It goes on to give you the otherwise illegible wording that covers the screen at the beginning. If you wish to read it you can find it here. Meanwhile I find myself fishing around for more information.

The backdrop tells us that he is speaking to The Heritage Foundation. When John Hilboldt is introducing the session we have a long shot of the platform and see that the banner on the front of the lectern is the artwork for the cover of Steyn’s book, America Alone, published in 2006, whose subtitle is “the end of the world as we know it”. If you pay close attention to what he says you will find that it emerges that this speech took place in 2007. Steyn begins speaking at 5:34 and finishes at 31:11. The rest is questions.

Before someone starts jumping up and down, accusing me of jumping on the publicity bandwagon accompanying the appalling and tragic events in and around Paris last week, let me hasten to plead guilty. Yes, of course. The subject matter is almost constantly in the news in some way or another, but at this time it is more sharply in focus. I have had this speech up my metaphorical sleeve for some time, holding back on covering it principally because there are no very striking lessons to be learnt in respect of public speaking. What has always been interesting about it – and it is always interesting about Mark Steyn anyway – is the Cassandra factor. When we have a clear record of unheeded prophesy, we need to recognize it. There is a particularly prescient passage here, in the Q&A beginning at 35:25.

Steyn carries pre-publicity baggage. Everyone ‘knows’ that he is a wicked ultra-right-wing hawk. He acknowledges this reputation at 16:25. The interesting thing is that it’s not altogether true. Yes he dares to address what too many commentators duck. Yes he is prepared to be very blunt, particularly in his dealings with those whose adherence to fashionable pieties causes them to snipe at him; and the power of his articulacy causes Steyn’s bluntness to be very sharp.

Listen to this speech, read what he writes, and unless blinded by prejudice against him you quickly learn that his target is not really Islam. It is the willful refusal by too many to realize that there are issues to be addressed, and the only way to address them is in open debate. That debate could be tough but it won’t be as tough as the consequences of ignoring it for political expediency, or burying it under asinine ‘hate speech’ laws.

We’re talking about free speech here. On Sunday there was a huge march through Paris. Everyone knows that it was set up by a tsunami-like popular movement in favour of free speech. Television shots of that march were heart-warming till ruined by the sight of that dreadful front row.

The march had its front row hijacked by politicians and its purpose hijacked by the main-stream media. Why did the media call it a ‘Unity March’? Where did that preposterous name come from? Was it dreamed up by pathetic spin-doctors for those politicians, most of whom have a record on free speech that bears no scrutiny? If ever there was something whose momentum could achieve something really important, this is it. It still could. As a fervent believer in people I think people untrammeled by the establishment have a better chance of pulling something good out of all this than all the self-serving politicians, their cheerleaders in the media, and least of all the dismal offenderati. What is needed is openness, fresh air and sunlight. What is needed is free speech.

I’ll give you an example of how the establishment consistently makes things worse. Every time something like this happens there is an immediate knee-jerk reaction in the media from some politico-jerk about ‘islamophobic backlash’. The interesting thing is that it never actually happens. The reason is that people in general don’t hate or blame Muslims in general, just the pricks that foment appalling stuff like Paris and Nigeria. People know Muslims and like Muslims.

Right now, my favourite Muslim is Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam.