It’s Only Words

I decided I was going to take a week off from reporting on the nation’s descent into madness. With 88 percent of the population believing we’re headed in the wrong direction — and with Uncle Joe’s approval rating sinking faster than the crypto market — I figured I could give myself a break, consoled by the notion that I might not be the only one whose empirical capacities haven’t failed utterly.

Another reason for my self-imposed sabbatical is that people were asking me why I’m so angry. I’m not angry. I’m sad. We’ve been given a chance to participate in a singularly historical experiment in self-government, and we’re turning it into Lord of the Flies. If you can’t shed a tear over a blown opportunity like that, you’d … well … you’d vote for Uncle Joe.

No. Instead of venting about the nation’s clear and present danger, I decided to undertake something more constructive this week, to write about something significantly more positive, to avail myself of a learning experience, if you will. And, so, I did.

Master Class

I’m nothing if not a student of language and rhetorical styles. When I came across this clip from our esteemed Vice President, Auntie Kammie, I recognized it as one of those increasingly rare teachable moments, as we say in the biz. Despite the brevity of the clip, I immediately knew it was the proverbial mother lode of rhetorical style and acumen.

Here’s what I learned:

  • At the beginning of your remarks, make a series of hand gestures like a magician preparing to pull a moose out of his sleeve. This vague suggestion of prestidigitation lets the members of the audience know that no matter what they expect, they’re in for a surprise.
  • When speaking, nod in the direction of the people to whom you’re speaking as if they’re a gaggle of insufferable cretins, smile vaguely, raise your eyebrows, and say, “Right?” By doing that, you’ll let the members of your audience know you believe what you just said actually meant something. And you’ll reassure them you have the patience to hang in there until they figure out what hell you meant.
  • Use repetition. Note that Auntie Kammie continually repeats the phrase, “The significance of the passage of time.” She repeatedly cites time to convince the members of the audience she’s not wasting theirs. And she moves her hands and arms back and forth in an elongating motion to suggest she also knows how to play the accordion.
  • When you realize the shell on the egg you’re laying is cracking perilously, cite the children. “It’s for the children.” “It’s about the children.” “We’re doing it for the children.” “We have to think of the children.” And while you’re citing the children, continue to nod piously and patiently. The message here is this: Even if I’m an incoherently blithering nincompoop, I’m blithering for the children. Can’t I at least get an inch of slack for that?

Wow. There really is nothing like studying an artist at work.


I may get back to decrying the demise of our country next week. I don’t know yet. For now, I just want to ride the high of changing my tune, looking through my rose-colored glasses, and enjoying the ride.

Since it’s summer, I can just pretend it’s a long, cool water slide to Hell.

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Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brienhttps://obriencg.com/
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.