The article substantiates the initial sarcasm, negating any confidence the reader may have gained regarding the leadership issue. Despite the competence of the leaders chosen for congress, Ms. Tumulty's article ends with only slightly less sarcastic words than in the beginning: "That's hardly a formula for compromise -- or for getting much of anything done.
4. Rhetorical Techniques
The author uses several rhetorical techniques in order to convey to the reader the thesis and focus of her article. Seven of these are discussed.
a. Normative propositions
Normative propositions mean that opinions and interpretations are directly presented as facts within the article. An example of this in the article under discussion is the author's beginning, that many see leadership in Congress as a futile exercise, comparable to herding cats or pushing string. The opinion is emphasized as fact through the use of the word "always": "The analogies... have always suggested that the titles Speaker of the House and Senate majority leader were someone's idea of a joke." The word always emphasizes the fact that the author is attempting to actualize an opinion for which no substantiated proof is given.
b. Innuendo and inference
This, like normative propositions, is an attempt to lead the reader to judgments without having to provide concrete evidence for a claim. In the article, the mention of Alcee Hastings is such a case. The author emphasizes the fact that Hastings had been impeached for accepting a bribe, but mentions only briefly that he had been acquitted of this charge. Nevertheless, the emphasis is upon the intrigue of the charge rather than the acquittal. Furthermore, the author emphasizes the possible political repercussions of the charge, practically ignoring all other factors. This is a clear manipulation of relevant facts to favor the author's thesis.
c. Spatial imbalance
There are two relevant cases of spatial imbalance in the article. Firstly, much more space is given to Nancy Pelosi and her apparent excellence in leadership qualities, whereas Harry Reid is mentioned only once, and only in comparison to Ms. Reid. Secondly, the emphasis is on the incompetence of Congress, without any consideration of the opposite side of the issue. Both these imbalances portrays a manipulated view of the truth regarding the positions of leadership and the nature of Congress.
In a case of omniscience, an author claims to be intuitively aware of the thoughts, feelings, motives and intentions of others in order to promote his or her thesis. Tumulty does this on a number of occasions in her article. She for example claims that "President Bush does not want to spend his last two years in office vetoing one Democratic measure after another." She uses this claim as substantiation for the power of Senator McConnell in Congress to pass or withhold legislation.
Another occasion on which the author uses the omniscience element for manipulating the opinions of her readers is the case of Jane Harman, whom the author claims is not very well liked by Pelosi. She does not however provide any concrete proof of this by means of for example assertions by Ms. Pelosi herself. A further claim is that this particular dislike would motivate Pelosi to consider another candidate for the job, somewhat discrediting the latter's professionalism.
e. The Anonymous Rumor
This technique is used to promote the thesis in an apparently legitimate manner, once again without providing substantial proof. Several of the author's statements fall into this category, one of which is the assertion regarding Democrats arriving at Congress, and then being forced to serve under a Republican domain. This is used to further discredit the efforts of Congress.
f. Selective surrogates
These are the opinions of others used to support the biased thesis of the author to lend an otherwise lacking legitimacy. Tumulty uses Senator John McCain's words regarding the opposition of McConnell in this way as a springboard for her subsequent statement regarding President Bush.
g. Prediction as assessment
At the end of her article, Tumulty repeats her thesis from the beginning, that several elements make Congress incompetent to accomplish anything of significance either in the past or future. This prediction is…