"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Thursday, July 29, 2004

How Is John Kerry Nuanced?

John Kerry speaks tonight to accept his nomination, and much attention will be paid to how "nuanced" his speech will be. "Nuanced", of course, means that he's sophisticated and smart and judicious who won't fall into those simplistic traps of black-and-white thinking.

Problem is, if Kerry is nuanced, it's not a flattering description. Here's why.

There are two basic ways in which one may be nuanced. The first case occurs when one believes something that is clear and straightforward but must be communicated in opaque or misleading language due to the sensibilities of one's audience or the requirements of keeping that position secret. This is what diplomats do. The basic job of a diplomat is to present carrot-and-stick positions using tea-and-cake language.

This type of nuance, however, is not something in which candidates for President may indulge. Such misdirection is meant to mislead one's opposition and rivals, and the American people may never be treated as such. Furthermore, the idea or position back of all such verbal meandering is actually pretty clear and delineated. If such a clear position exists behind Kerry's tacking and quartering the wind, the only discernible candidate is, "I really, really, really want to be President."

The second sense in which one can be nuanced is to have a very complex position. Complex positions, however, should have very simply stated conclusions. A multitude of factors may go into the decision, but the decision should be laid out clearly. In addition, alternative results should be laid out clearly along with the changes in the conditions that would entail them. In other words, when the position really is complex, the presentation and explanation must be extraordinarily clear and concise.

Senator Kerry fails this test as well. Listening to him does not suggest that he's trying his best to communicate a complex position; it's that he either doesn't know precisely what his position is or doesn't want YOU to know it. That's not nuance. That's either muddleheadness or misdirection. Either way it's not impressive.

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