The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

audience-based reasons

The cover story in today's NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE is one of the best, most concrete examples of the rhetorical concept of audience-based reasons I've ever seen. James Traub, the author, explains how the rock star Bono has been able to achieve such success in having his political and social desires heard and heeded by so many politicians, both in the U.S. and in Europe. The simple answer, as Aristotle could have told us, is that Bono has leveraged his particular kind of credibility (his massive celebrity that gets doors opened for him) into meetings with policymakers who ordinarily wouldn't want to talk about African debt relief. Then, when meeting with these politicians, he's able to come up with reasons and appeals to them that work with their own values: to conservative Christians like Jesse Helms and President Bush, he uses Bible verses exhorting Christians to work on behalf of the poor. I'd use this text in class if it weren't so long.


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