15 November 2011

Rick Perry and the Spanish Inquisition

Last week, I was so busy preparing a keynote address for the annual conference of the UK & Ireland Toastmasters that I missed this spectacular failure to remember a third item in a list.

There are quite a lot of posts on this blog showing speakers making rather more effective use of three-part lists than Mr Perry, as well as a brief summary of the late Gail Jefferson's work on their recurrence in everyday conversation Why lists of three: mystery, magic or reason?

The above clip also reminded me that classic comedy shows have also sometimes played on a speaker's failure to remember all the items in a list, as in this excerpt from the Spanish Inquisition sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus - where all goes well until Michael Palin makes the mistake of trying to add a fourth item:


Roger said...

And here's another object lesson in how to display ones complete lack of qualification for the most powerful job in the world:


My own take on this is that Cain is here not quite as ignorant as he appears to be (he surely must have watched some TV and read one or two articles about Libya) but rather just can't bring himself to say a single positive thing about his president and the armed forces that serve him.

But he simply has no idea of how to extricate himself from the situation and just waffles on disastrously for 5 minutes.

Which I think illustrates a major difference between politicians and businessmen - the former may make gaffes but learn techniques to avoid answering awkward questions (with David Cameron giving a master class in this every Wednesday), however a former chief executive like Cain may have gone for decades without anyone ever asking him a question that wasn't a softball one.

Would also be interested in your view of the whole bizarre candidate debate circus in the US as this is so completely alien to the way the media now (mis-)handle politics in the UK.

You want politicians words to enjoy direct unmediated access to the public without Nick bloody Robinson popping up after ten seconds to explain what they are saying? Well this is it.

These one and a half hour debates now seem to be taking place several times a week and are fast turning into a true theatre of cruelty.

But I can't help but wonder if we'd be considerably better off if our own parties leadership candidates were subjected to such a gruelling assault course.

Cameron and Clegg would probably have won their debates effortlessly - but I really can't see Ed Miliband having made it through to leader had he been forced to spend so many hours in face to face debates with the other Ed and the other Miliband.

Anonymous said...

Roger, Ed Miliband did have to face Dave and the other candidates in hustings up and down the country. The only difference is that they are not televised or easily accessible online.
That and of course they had loads of town hall meetings on their own up and down the country. Ed still won.

The media in this country is bad partly because they assume we don't care or can't understand what our "leaders" are saying so we need Nick Robinson or some other person to describe what they are saying in soundbite form.