Politically speaking

THE WORDS sound familiar. You think you know what they mean. But when it is politicians talking, you have to look for hidden meanings. In this political season, it is good to check what the interviewed pols are really saying. Rhetoric can conceal duplicity, bitterness, and frustration.

What is expressed in public may be a secret message to someone in particular who understands what is behind the bland expressions. What is said and what is meant are not always identical.

This is best shown with examples.

We are working for party unity and there are those conspiring to split our ranks. (I don’t know what is going on. I have an idea who is behind this but he’s not taking my calls.)

I am willing to reach out to the doubters. (I will not answer any questions regarding my fitness for the highest office. There’s no need to stress the obvious.)

We need to have a single candidate to rally behind so as not to split the opposition. (Only the chosen one will agree to this principle.)

Why should we be swayed by the polls? Are they reliable or paid for by interested parties? (I am lagging in all the surveys. Sometimes my name doesn’t even get mentioned.)

I have decided to withdraw from the race to concentrate on what I am presently doing. (Anyway, I am not even in the conversation. Maybe this will attract the interest of some supporters.) I’m still hoping for a groundswell of support. (I am not holding my breath.)

In due time, I will reveal my program of government… (Nobody is interested in discussing issues.)

I am willing to debate on the issue… (I intend to use a proxy who knows this stuff. If the rules don’t allow that, you can forget about it.)

I am the most qualified candidate for the job. (Do I really need to talk about my achievements? Do you have time?)

I have to consult my family and take a pulse on what the country is saying before I throw my hat in the ring. (They all said — forget it.)

What the country needs is a leadership that is competent, honest, and having only the interests of the people being served. (We’ll keep looking.)

He is not a traditional politician. (The guy is clueless. He thinks his bio-data is impressive enough to get votes.)

My polls may look bad at this time. The campaign period has hardly begun. Watch my numbers rise… (I’m not getting any money from the fat cats yet.)

I have a young family to take care of and I have to give this my highest priority. I may not be able to turn down the pleas of my supporters to serve our country… (but not as Mayor. Anyway, my tarps are all printed and the videos are in the pipeline. Got my running shoes on.)

We have to watch out for fake news, swarming social attacks organized by digital mercenaries, and fake polls. Can political double-talk be far behind?

Even in closed-door meetings, where no minutes are taken, politicians in a huddle can pledge support for a particular candidate. This does not mean they cannot be persuaded to switch sides the day after. (Did I promise to be faithful?)

The tussle over the “gentlemen’s agreement” on term sharing for the leadership of the lower house is a classic case of political communication. There were even two secret vote counts whose total exceeded the number of members. This was followed by a highly publicized clarification on the wishes of the leader which also seemed inconclusive.

This political story has given a new shade to the favorite attire of politicians, the turncoat. It’s similar to a reversible jacket where both sides are waterproof.

Political communication is an art form. It needs to be interpreted by those who speak and understand it. It’s usually scripted anyway, especially when officially released through media. Even ambush interviews can be staged — you caught me off guard.

The only way to understand what politicians really mean is what they do (or don’t do) after they get elected. And by the time he admits he was just joking, it’s really too late. Thankfully, there is a next time, next year. Jokers need not apply.


Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda


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