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Sarkozy's imprecise rhetoric and Copé's lies

by Ted Welch
Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 at 06:40:04 PM EST

The day after after putting together the montage about Sarkozy below (based on research by Le Petit Journal of Canal+), Nice-Matin had an interview with Damon Mayaffre, a researcher at CNRS (the National Centre of Scientific Research). He's been studying 85,000 sentences uttered in public by Sarkozy since 2007 and, in the Nice-Matin interview, focuses on Sarkozy's  tendency to put questions to journalists so that he can answer them and seem be a master of the "precise figures" he claims (falsely in some examples) to be offering them, while shifting the focus to things he wants to talk about. It also suggests that the journalists (who he often attacks) don't know the relevant facts and need to be informed by him, encouraging a negative view of journalists.

Un chercheur niçois dissèque le discours sarkozien | Nice-Matin A researcher dissects the speech Sarkozian Nice | Nice-Matin
La formule interrogative ? Ce « C'est un cadeau aux riches ?» poursuit quatre objectifs : «Se poser une question, non pas pour l'éviter, mais pour donner le sentiment d'avoir réponse à tout. Du coup, communier avec le bon sens populaire ... » The interrogative form? This "It's a gift to the rich?" has four objectives: " Ask yourself a question, not to avoid it, but to give the feeling of having all the answers. So, commune with popular common sense ... "
La forme interrogative comme moyen aussi de construire son charisme : « La technique sarkozienne qui consiste également à renvoyer une question au journaliste qui, lui, ne peut ni ne doit y répondre est un moyen d'inciter l'auditeur à s'abandonner à son autorité : la question restant fatalement sans réponse, sauf de sa part !»The interrogative form is also a means to contruct his charisma: "The Sarkozian technique, which involves referring a question to the reporter who, himself, can not and must not respond, is a way of encouraging the listener to surrender to authority: the question remains unanswered inevitably, except by him !
"

chercheur-nicois-disseque-le-discours-sarkozien



sarkozy-precision2

jean-francois-cope-text

Actually that description is unfair - to pit-bulls; they don't lie. Maybe Copé would call it being economical with the facts. He's smart enough to know the facts, so his repeated misrepresentation of them is a recurring expression of contempt for the French people.

Thus in recent attacks on Hollande and the PS, he's accused them of making Corrèze (where Hollande is head of the Department) the most indebted area of France, making it the "Greece of France", a charge repeated several times recently.

However, as Liberation points out, this conveniently avoids the embarrassing facts that Copé's party, the UMP, were in power when the debt increased most:

Copé pas vraiment carré sur la Corrèze - LibérationCope not really square on the Correze - Liberation
quand Jean-François Copé parle d'une augmentation de la dette de 110 millions d'euros, il choisit un intervalle qui l'arrange (2007-2011) et mélange les époques : les deux premiers budgets ont été votés sous la précédente majorité UMP. «Notre responsabilité est de 63 millions sur 363 millions», réplique la majorité actuelle du conseil général, «17% pour nous, 83% pour la droite».when Jean-Francois Cope talks about a debt increase of 110 million euros, he chose a range that suits him (2007-2011) and mixes up periods: the first two budgets were passed under the previous majority UMP. "Our responsibility is to 63 million of 363 million," replied the current majority of the General Council, "for us 17%, 83% for the right."

Hollande only became president of the conseil général in March 2008, when the department was already the most indebted in France !

The bare-faced lying of Copé is disgusting,  but continues; he tries another lie.  On 29th March Copé alleged that the department had increased its staff by 50% under Hollande.

The figures again expose his contempt for the truth and the public: 1335 in 2008, 1318 in 2009, 1367 in 2012 (of whom 66 were national transfers).

On 30th March Copé tried to defend his accusation,  ignoring the fact made clear in the report he cites that in the year before Hollande came to power the staff grew from 813 to 1174 - a 44% increase, the PS was only responsible for a 5% increase. Moreover these increases were mainly due to a national policy of decentralisation. This guy is head of the UMP and seen as a possible future president !

Copé - Liberation


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Pit bulls are bite and hold animals. Sounds like Copé would be more of a slash and run type, like a German Shepard.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 at 08:44:56 PM EST
A German Shepherd (or Alsatian, in Britspeak) is a noble animal.

As are we all, Copé is an animal.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 at 01:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And we had a very fine and much loved 'bite and hold' Staffordshire bull terrier.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 at 09:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not much difference from republicans,eh?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP (rafifoon@yahoo.com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 at 12:34:39 PM EST
same politics same effects

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 at 01:53:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same stinking tactics.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 at 02:18:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what you get when you characterize social studies (in this case politics, economics, and finance) as science: Lies posing as truth.
by rifek on Wed Apr 4th, 2012 at 12:46:24 PM EST
I'm not sure I understand your point; the study of politics etc is not the same as the practice of them. Sarkozy and Copé are very bad examples of practicing politicians (I don't subscribe to the easy cynicism of "they're all the same") and I don't think anyone thinks they are doing studies or science.

But anyway, you prompted me to check Mayaffre's approach, an academic at CNRS, who has done what sounds like a very thorough, computer-assisted analysis (study) of Sarkozy's public statements since 2007 and identified certain recurring rhetorical strategies, which he can substantiate with his voluminous evidence, a quite scientific approach. He contrasts this with the rather subjective dominant approach even in the social sciences (in France at least):


Today, the only approach tolerated by the institution is the "intuitive" one, based on the premise that there is such a thing as "a natural understanding" of the language being used, which leads to the kind of literary commentary which is expected from sixth formers. This "good old (reading) method which is anything but a method", far from questioning itself tries to exert a monopoly. Any other approach, insisting on method but not excluding interpretation, even if it does not aim at replacing the traditional approach but merely at complementing it, will be suspect, open to criticism and, in the end, rejected.

 ... if our doctoral thesis was unanimously acclaimed by the jury it was not thanks to its rigorous method but in spite of it. Our merits as a historian were warmly acknowledged notwithstanding the methodical rigour of our work, indeed almost despite its scientific ambition.

And yet the method used --lexicometry-- is simple. It consists in measuring the changes in the vocabulary used in political discourse, by plotting the frequency distribution of a given word in the speech of a locutor; evaluating how a term is over- or under-used as compared to the average use in right- or left-wing discourse; recording the chronological distribution of these words in a diachronic corpus to evaluate the changes in political stances. If it is methodical work it is because the historian-lexicographer defines his principle of analysis and rule of conduct; and because of this, invites criticism. He claims not to assert anything unless it is demonstrated or substantiated by some form of quantitative measurement. As for his ambitions, they are simple and limited : to delay for as long as possible the moment of interpretation, to push back his own subjectivity. Instead of dealing with a raw text, to be investigated and interpreted straight away without any mediation, the historian is now presented with a text which has already been processed, systematically sorted and indexed. Lexicometry does not preclude historical interpretations, but the descriptive data supporting those interpretations is rigorously impartial. Indeed, the interpretations might be all the more daring since they stem from such an objective description.

http://lexicometrica.univ-paris3.fr/article/numero3/dm2001.htm



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Apr 4th, 2012 at 06:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It still isn't science without numbers, and numbers pulled out of your backside (aka polls) don't count.
by rifek on Thu Apr 5th, 2012 at 11:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What isn't science ? What does your comment have to do with Mayaffre's approach and those social scientists who work in similar ways ?

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 07:00:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point, and I did have one, is that I have yet to see a meaningful demonstration that economics or politics is in any way scientific, yet, as you point out that Mayaffre points out, Sarkozy and Copé (and they're far from alone) routinely through effectively meaningless numbers around to create a false appearance of precision, and they get away with it because economists and political scientists are permitted to masquerade as scientists.
by rifek on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 09:03:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you move from obscurity to over-generalisation of a very unscientific kind :-)

They don't always get away with it because some journalists check  politicians' claims, as with Sarkozy and Le petit journal - see my montage. Sometimes journalists use the research of those who study economics and politics to refute politicians' claims and sometimes the researchers do the criticism themselves. Examples of the former are the regular columns dissecting politicians' claims such as Liberation's "desintox" column, "La parole des politiques soumise à contre-enquête.":

http://www.liberation.fr/desintox,99721

Le Monde has

http://decodeurs.blog.lemonde.fr/

I also tracked down the article in English discussing the approach to studying politics (specifically the use of rhetoric) by Mayaffre which makes clear its scientific nature.

But of course the sciences vary and one would not expect studies of things as complex as human societies to be the same as studies of, say, particles.

Of course, there are people studying economics and politics who do try to over-simplify in order to ape the "hard" sciences and there are those merely dogmatically assert assumptions as if they were natural laws. but Mayaffre is just one example of the application of scientific method to a complex area like politics, but within a wider framework which necessarily requires intuitive human judgment:


"If it is methodical work it is because the historian-lexicographer defines his principle of analysis and rule of conduct; and because of this, invites criticism. He claims not to assert anything unless it is demonstrated or substantiated by some form of quantitative measurement. As for his ambitions, they are simple and limited : to delay for as long as possible the moment of interpretation, to push back his own subjectivity. Instead of dealing with a raw text, to be investigated and interpreted straight away without any mediation, the historian is now presented with a text which has already been processed, systematically sorted and indexed. Lexicometry does not preclude historical interpretations, but the descriptive data supporting those interpretations is rigorously impartial. Indeed, the interpretations might be all the more daring since they stem from such an objective description."

http://lexicometrica.univ-paris3.fr/article/numero3/dm2001.htm



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Apr 7th, 2012 at 05:46:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that most economists are quacks, charlatans and purveyors of patent medicines is no more evidence that it is impossible to put economics on a sound scientific footing than the fact that most 19th century physicians were quacks, charlatans and purveyors of patent medicines. Though of course if one wishes to conduct economic science, as opposed to political apologetics, one must abandon the mock precision that equilibrium models pretend to.

- Jake

If you only spend 20 minutes of the rest of your life on economics, go spend them here.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 7th, 2012 at 09:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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