Tag Archives: Rhetoric

Meghan McCain on Ann Coulter

On the “Blogs and Stories” section of the Daily Beast, Meghan McCain dishes on being a middle (wo)man in a politically polar world. From being called a RINO (“Republican in name only”), to having Ann Coulter being the egregious side of the Republican image, McCain explains how the younger generation is being lost in translation.

Meghan McCain

I am sure most extreme conservatives and extreme liberals would find me a confusing, walking contradiction. But I assure you, there are many people out there just like me who represent a new, younger generation of Republicans. It took me almost two years of campaigning across this country and hanging out, on a daily basis, with some of the most famous and most intelligent Republicans to fall in love with the Republican Party. If it took that much time and exposure for me to join the party, how can GOP leaders possibly expect to reach young supporters by staying the course they have been on these past eight years? Where has our extreme thinking gotten us?

In regards to right-wing extremist, Ann Coulter, McCain explains that both her politics and mien.

I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time. But no matter how much you or I disagree with her, the cult that follows Coulter cannot be denied. She is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the most notable female members of the Republican Party.

More so than my ideological differences with Ann Coulter, I don’t like her demeanor. I have never been a person who was attracted to hate or negativity. I don’t believe in scare tactics and would never condone or encourage anyone calling President Obama a Muslim. But controversy sells and Coulter is nothing if not controversial. Everything about her is extreme: her voice, her interview tactics, and especially the public statements she makes about liberals. Maybe her popularity stems from the fact that watching her is sometimes like watching a train wreck.

Can I get an amen?

I am a big fan of this article because I reflect similar sentiments as the 2008 Republican presidential candidate’s daughter. Being a proponent of conservative libertarianism , I can relate to feeling of exclusion from either party. I grew up in a conservative environment, but I have some views that are not “deemed appropriate” by the GOP. However, I’m without a doubt more conservative (I do not relate with the Democratic party in terms of fiscal, economic, or military issues in any way).

I can appreciate McCain’s views and even agree with a majority of them. I think it’s honorable and respectable that this young woman has solid beliefs of her own that she refuses to sugarcoat just because the two dominating parties don’t “approve.” Which begs the question: who’s representing us moderates and third-party people?


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“Twitter in Congress, With the Accent on Twit”

This is a really interesting article by Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English at Emory University. For those who don’t know what Twitter is, you might be a little lost.

Essentially, Twitter is a real time internet tool that allows users to let their “followers” (or people who subscribe to their Twitter profile) what they’re doing. This is also called “updating a status” or “tweeting.” Many use it just to keep connected with friends; however, writers, politicians, and the like are using it to let followers know up-to-date news, when blogs have been updated, etc. So yes, this is the context for the following article.

President Obama’s address this week turned out one of the biggest viewing audiences ever for a chief executive’s visit to the chamber. But while people at home were admiring Obama’s delivery and accepting or rejecting his statements, some in the seats in front of him were doing something else.

Here’s the story by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. Several members of the House and Senate came to the occasion equipped with real time digital tools, and before and during the speech, they sent out “content,” what they saw and heard and judged. Or, as Milbank puts it, “They whipped out their BlackBerrys and began sending text messages like high school kids bored in math class.”

Some of their broadcasts:

“‘One doesn’t want to sound snarky, but it is nice not to see Cheney up there,’ Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced as Obama entered the chamber.‘I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg,’ Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) broadcast, misspelling the name of the ailing Supreme Court justice. McCaskill could be seen applauding with BlackBerry in one hand.

‘Capt Sully is here — awesome!’ announced Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), spotting the US Airways pilot in the gallery.

Then there was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), in whose name this text message was sent at about the time the president spoke of the need to pull the country together: ‘Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour.’ A few minutes later, another message came through: ‘Disregard that last Tweet from a staffer.’”

Culberson provided a live streaming video, and before the event approached some Capital Police and asked them to name themselves. Others gave minute remarks about where they were sitting and who sat nearby. More dispatches: “We must stand our ground as conservatives”; “Not many applause lines. Some in the audience not sure how to react”; “Americans are not quitters — Amen — what a great story.”

If this is the mindset of our representatives, we need an administered dose of Mark Twain, who said: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

And: “Congressman is the trivialist distinction for a full grown man.”

And: “All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.”

Indeed, a representative with a live-action tool in hand may be the clearest expression of a vital principle of communication: The faster people can record their experience, the stupider it gets. We hear a lot about infantilization, but this is “adolescentilization,” and it reaches all the way to the top. With everyone so equipped, we’ll never see another Webster, Clay, Taft, LBJ, Moynihan . . .

(Source: Chronicle.com)

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Passion and Civility Debate Tournament

The second annual Passion and Civility Debate Tournament finals, hosted by St. Edward’s Center for Ethics and Leadership, will be held tomorrow, February 20 at 2:00 p.m. The Center for Ethics and Leadership, in coordination with Campus Ministry, had students debate contemporary issues with passion and civility in a single-elimination tournament.

Beginning with thirty-two students, the tournament is now down to its final four, respectively: Anthony Betancourt, Ankit Babber, Marett Hanes, and yours truly.

The debate schedule is as follows:

Semi Debate 1:
Anthony Betancourt vs. Ankit Babber
Judges: Mary Brantl, Helene Caudill, and John Camden

Semi Debate 2:
Jen Obenhaus vs. Marett Hanes
Judges: Val Episcopo, David Thompson, Br. Larry Atkinson

Short recession to determine finalists.

Debaters TBA
Judges: Jack Green Musselman, Helene Caudill, Mary Brantl, John Camden,
and Val Episcopo

If you get the chance, come support the Center and the student participants (but mostly me) as everyone battles for the title of Debate Champion and the $250 first prize.


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Junior Year of College: Part II

The second half of my junior year of college begins today at noon.  Let us take a moment to pray to the grade gods that this year does not end in my ruin.  [Insert reverent pause here.]BooksI decided to take a masochistic route this semester by taking on a multitude of courses, work hours, and extracurricular activities.  This includes six courses (two of them being evening classes), working as an office assistant for the School of Humanities at my college, proofreading for the university newspaper, editing for the university academic journal, and making time to study, eat, sleep, and walk my dog.  I see the potential for a terrific debacle sometime in the near future.*

In all honesty, the challenge excites me.  You see, I’m one of those people who claim that procrastination and a loaded schedule offers a rousing sense of pressure to their lives (although, I feel that this is becoming a pretty weak rationalization).

In other news, I think I’m going to take on the challenge of writing a post about my disdain for the absence of terminating commas in the AP style format.  I know, I know… riveting stuff.

* Thanks to Kate for reminding me that the word “debacle,” exists.

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Shamelessly Plugging Myself

I am currently searching for a part-time job that will help beef up my resume, as well as help me gain some experience in the field of writing, editing, and journalism.  Anyone interested in hiring a proofreader, copy editor, editorial assistant, intern, writer, contributor, drudge, or mini-minion?  E-mail me at jennifer.obenhaus@gmail.com, or send me a message via the blog or my Twitter.

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“It Was a Picture of Language”

Everyone has something that moves them.  Language moves me.  In a book about diagramming sentences entitled Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, author Kitty Burns Florey puts into words my precise sentiments:

And then, in her firm and saintly script, she put words on the line, a noun and a verb—probably something like dog barked. Between the words she drew a short vertical slash, bisecting the line.  Then she drew a road—a short country lane—that forked off at an angle under the word dog, and on it she wrote The.  That was it: subject, predicate, and the little modifying article that civilized the sentence—all of it made into a picture that was every bit as clear and informative as an actual portrait of a beagle in mid-woof.  The thrilling part was that this was a picture not of the animal but of the words that stood for the animal and its noises.  It was a representation of something that was both concrete (we could hear the words if we said them aloud, and they conveyed an actual event) and abstract (the words were invisible, and their sounds vanished from the air as soon as they were uttered).  The diagram was the bridge between a dog and the description of a dog.  It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics.  It was much more than words uttered, or words written on a piece of paper: it was a picture of language.

“It was a picture of language.”  I read that and was immediately inspired.  To be able to take the way we communicate to each other and draw it out in a way that is so precise, so clear, is something I find incredible and brilliant.

As you may have read, I am a junior at St. Edward’s University, majoring in English writing and rhetoric and specializing in professional writing.  Originally, I was specializing in rhetoric and composition because I had my heart set on being an English rhetoric professor; however, after taking several writing and journalism classes, I have found that I really enjoy writing. I am not tossing the idea of teaching—I am very passionate about rhetoric and would be honored to teach it one day—but I am passionate equally as passionate about writing and editing.  I suppose we’ll see where that takes me.


With this blog, I hope to accomplish several things.  Above all, I want to create a platform with which I can reach out to others who love, are inquiring about, or want to discuss writing, editing, rhetoric, journalism, or anything else within that realm.  I want to improve upon my own writing—which I hope those reading will vigorously critique and proofread—so that I can, too, accomplish my dream of writing for an established newspaper or publish my own book.  I will hone my writing skills by writing reviews (of both the long and short variety), opinion columns, and other editorial-like pieces.  I hope that when I write a post about how ridiculous it is not to use a terminating comma in AP style, you will argue with me.  I pray that when I write a review of a restaurant, you will dine there and make your own decision.  I don’t want this blog to be a reader-writer experience; I want this to be a discussion, a reference, a forum for talk about language and communication.


Writing and editing is my passion. This field is something that has always inspired me, and I will continue to pursue it.

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A Brief Introduction

Hi, all,

As my “About Me” section says, I’m an English Writing and Rhetoric major at St. Edward’s University. I plan to be a copy editor after I graduate next spring, and I will pursue freelance writing in my spare time.

My first blog was started for an elective course I chose to take called Entertainment Journalism. The class was taught by Austin American-Statesman columnist Michael Barnes. Michael’s primary platform is his print and online column/blog, Out and About, which can be found online at the Statesman’s Austin360.com site. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties (cursed be Blogger forever), I had to end my first-ever blog.

Being the brilliant writer and mentor Michael is, I have come to love online journalism and couldn’t stand to end blogging on a bad note. I have started this blog to focus on what moves me and to hone my writing skills. I plan to focus on reviews and features, but we’ll see how that progresses. I’m just glad to be back up and running. I welcome any feedback that you have to offer, and I truly look forward to writing for this blog.

Please search Google for “Jennifer Obenhaus” for features on my last blog’s posts, as well as comments and contributions I’ve made to other blogs.


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