An Epidemic of Political Paralepsis

To damn with faint praise; or to pretend to praise, while damning; or, to surgically excise tissue that you told the patient you'd leave alone. It's a slimy rhetorical parry, one that might have worked in previous cycles but is doomed to failure in a news cycle where every comment is instantly dissected for motive.

Endorsing Sen. Hillary Clinton, Ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey said of Obama:

"I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim," Kerrey is quoted as saying. "There's a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal."

A compliment on its face, but in Iowa and elsewhere, a dangerous link to make about Obama. Not only is Obama not Muslim and betrays no influence of having been a Muslim, there is, even among Democrats, a healthy amount of anti-Muslim prejudice. By the same token, Obama appeals to many in the elite precisely because of the symbolism Kerrey invokes: as Andrew Sullivan has written, imagine what a young Pakistani boy watching a Barack Obama inauguration would think of the man Americans just elected their president. They would identify with him in a way that furthers American interests.

Paralepsis verdict: probably guilty.

Then there's this:

Paralepsis verdict: probably, guilty, given how angry this exchange made Penn's associates in the Clinton campaign.

And what about Mike Huckabee and Mormonism? By reminding voters that he's a Christian Leader, by pointing out, oh by the way, here's something about Mormonism he doesn't know -- whether Lucifer and Jesus were brothers (answer: sort of) --

The press is complicit, too.