Friday, September 27, 2013

Cut And Pastiche

According to the conventional wisdom, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been blessed with a new set of more adept and aware English-language speechwriters, making Abe II a much easier international sell than Abe I was.

For those who have had the pleasure (?) of reading his book, though, in either of its versions, New Abe retains many of the defects of Old Abe. He is still offering the regurgitation of rote memorized bullet points, without bridges in between the points themselves. What is new about New Abe is the presentation of a broader topic list -- the offering of a greater variety of monochomatic sketches of potentially attractive subjects. New Abe also delivers his points and anecdotes with vim and vigor, rather than the hangdog look of haughty contempt of six years ago.

An honest desire to appear interested in what listeners might be interested in, however, cannot compete with the Prime Minister's unwillingness or inability to satisfy the human need for a defensible architecture of thought. Further crippling is the lack, even at this late date, of Mr. Abe having a sense of the kind of country he intends to craft via the Third Arrow of Abenomics.

The result, as can be judged from the text of his speech to the New York Stock Exchange (Link) is earnest, trivial, bewildering, winding and embarrassing rhetorical chaos. The smart money will applaud (because it is the smart money) but will note in the aide-mémoire only "Structural reform/YES, TPP/YES, More women/YES. Substance? NOTHING -- jury still out."

Later - The Mainichi Shimbun checks in with a report that a cool reception awaits the PM from within the Liberal Democratic Party in response his eager beaver rhetorical flourishes in New York. (Link)

Later still - Over at The Diplomat, Jonathan DeHart derides the speech as "a barrage of pop cultural references" and highlights the blowback from at least one of the PM's metaphors. (Link)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good links. So the PM has his I am a jelly donut moment in Nueva York. It probably sounded worse than it reads, but does clunk as if he asked who let the dogs out. It is one thing to try to connect "culturally" with part/s of America, it is another to misread totally the political thrust of TPP.

Just like the Latin American (not just Cuba) and Mid-East foreign policy formulated (? or formed by the coincidence of interest vectors) by the US of A, TPP is not representative of US national (as in civil)interest. Rather it is a coagulated mess of very narrow specialist inputs that are not decipherable to casual observers (especially as it is secretive process). Those who manage it, or think they manage it, are deluded by the theory and ideal of free trade and do not realize the devil is in the detail. The detail has nothing to do with free trade but all to do with hijacked agenda. The only consolation as the world wakes up to the fait accompli of TPP and its Atlantic twin sibling is that these agreements will equally screw all participating nationals for the benefit of a handful of lawyers, IP rent collectors, and those who cornered their respective markets in the previous decade.