An Old Prejudice

A reader writes:

You wrote:

"There seems to be a meme that because someone is inspiring, there has to be no substance."

This is an old prejudice.  I think I wrote to you before about it, but it is ancient, heightened during the Rennaissance and Enlightment, to the point where it is ordinary bias to presume that one perfects style at the expense of substance.  Teaching rhetoric, I hear this sort of idea expressed by students, noted in the press, and stated in conversation regularly. It is easy for people to fall into this sort of thing even though conceptually it is bunk and Obama is a contemporary exhibit A as to why it is bunk.

I dare say, no matter how many times you point it out, until Obama drones on about policy specifics to the point where no one can ignore the fact that he has specifics (and knows them), many will still assume that one who soars in language is not staying focused on issues.

Obama is quite Ciceronian in his enactment of leadership. He balances a wide culture with eloquence.  Yet many often assume Cicero was principally a stylist, which is sheer nonsense.

It is superficial decision making, what social scientists might call peripheral processing.  I would wager that many of those who reiterate Obama is all hat and no cattle, as Hillary is encouraging, actually don't know much about her policy positions either.