Saturday, July 7, 2012

Old People Shouldn't Try To Talk About Young People

Daniel Larison takes Michael Walsh to task for a rather ludicrous comment:
Michael Walsh describes Paul Ryan in a very strange way:
The first is that he speaks in the cadences of a younger America; he’s like a Quentin Tarantino character come to life, minus the profanity.
I confess that I don’t really know what this means. I am several years younger than Ryan, and there’s nothing in his “cadences” that I recognize as being all that similar to the way that I and other people in my generation speak. Which character would Ryan be? Mr. Orange? If he isn’t using profanity, I don’t think he can be a Tarantino character.
Walsh, who was born in 1949, apparently hasn't spoken to a young person in the wild for a long time.  Few are "without profanity."  Many are creatively profane.  Name dropping Quentin Tarantino doesn't provide hipness by association either.  There's a large swath of eighteen-year-olds who can't name a single Tarantino film.

Granted, the young do have a noticeable cadence.  Watch a segment of MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes and a round table segment of ABC's This Week.  Economics professor Karl Smith, a regular on the former, speaks about economics differently than Paul Krugman, a regular on the latter.  (As a side note, it's unclear whether Chris Hayes and George Will speak the the same language.)

That being said, Ryan does have a distinctive cadence; it's reminiscent of the class nerd who speaks too quickly because he's afraid of being cut off before he reveals all of the amazing statistics he's discovered.  He's unlikely to attract the ironic hipster demographic to the fold.

Walsh seems to be the sort who would suggest "organizing this new thing I've heard about-a flash mob-to get young conservatives to the polls" while being blithely unaware that flash mobs have become passe.

Finally, predicting what will attract young voters should be an exercise is Socratic humility: admit that one knows nothing.  Only fools attempt to predict with certainty whether a song, a spokesperson, or a cadence. will attract the youth vote.

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