It is timely to offer sage political advice, via one of the greatest orators of ancient
Speaking from the floor of the Roman Senate,
Here is the advice that
1. Speak Plainly When It's Right to Speak Plainly
"The orator who is distinguished by the simplicity of his manner . . . will be sparing in the use of new words, easy and modest in his metaphors, and cautious in the use of . . . other ornaments of language and sentiment."
2. But Always Have a Quick Wit
"Oratory will be frequently enlivened by turns of wit and pleasantry, which in speaking have a much greater effect than is imagined. There are two sorts of them: smart sayings and repartees, and humor. Our orator will make use of both--in his narratives, to make them lively and entertaining--and in giving or retorting a stroke of ridicule."
3. Use Zingers and Sound Bites with Care
"The powers of ridicule are not to be employed too often . . . nor with the least degree of petulance and abuse, lest we appear audacious and ill-bred. . . . We should likewise avoid all affected witticisms, which appear not to be thrown out occasionally, but to be dragged from the closet--for such are generally cold and insipid."
4. Wax Lyrical When It's Right to Wax Lyrical
"This is the eloquence that bends and sways the passions! This is the eloquence that alarms or soothes them at her pleasure! This is the eloquence that sometimes tears up all before it like a whirlwind; and, at others, steals imperceptibly upon the senses, and probes to the bottom of the heart!"
5. Repeat--But Only When It's Right
"The nervous, the fierce, the flaming orator, if he is born for this alone, and only practices and applies himself to this . . . is of all the most contemptible. The plain and simple orator, speaking acutely and expertly, has an appearance of wisdom and good-sense . . . but the copious and diffusive speaker, if he has no other skill, will scarcely appear to be in his senses."
6. Prove, Delight, and Push Their Buttons
"He is truly eloquent . . . who in the Forum, and in public debates, can speak as to prove, delight, and force the passions. To prove is a matter of necessity. To delight is indispensably requisite to engage the attention. And to force the passions is the surest means of victory."
7. Cling to Logic--It's Useful
"A finished orator . . . should borrow the assistance . . . of logic. For though public speaking is one thing and disputing another, and though there is a visible difference between a private controversy and a public harangue, both the one and the other come under the notion of reasoning."
8. Cling to Morality--It's Useful, Too
"He ought to acquaint himself not only with the art of logic, but with all the common and most useful branches of morality. For without a competent knowledge of these, nothing can be advanced and unfolded with any spirit and energy, or with becoming dignity and freedom."
9. Hit the History Books, Kids
"He should also be well versed in history and the venerable records of antiquity, particularly those of his country. . . . To be unacquainted with what has passed in the world, before we came into it ourselves, is to be always children."
10. Read Philosophy (Yes, Philosophy)
"The eloquent speaker . . . cannot be formed without the assistance of philosophy. . . . Because without philosophy, no man can speak fully and copiously upon a variety of important subjects."
11. But Don't Talk Like a Philosopher
"Their language has neither the nerves nor the sting which is required in the orator's when he harangues the crowded Forum. . . . For the language of philosophy is gentle and composed, and entirely calculated for the shady walks of the Academy--not armed with those forcible sentiments, and rapid turns of expression, which move the populace."
12. Finally, Understand How Politics Really Works
"Our orator . . . should be thoroughly acquainted with the sources of argument and proof. . . . Otherwise, how can he enlarge upon those which are most pertinent, and dwell upon such as more particularly affect his cause? Or how can he soften a harsh circumstance, or conceal, and (if possible) entirely suppress what would be deemed unanswerable, or steal off the attention of the hearer to a different topic?
I think we can safely suggest that Marcus Tullius Cicero does a regular triple turn with a half pike and an end twist in his grave at the caliber of today's politicians. If Cicero - the politicians politician - wasn't already dead, he would for certain die of mortification.