Stanley Fish and I don’t agree about everything (or, really, much at all), but I think he makes some nice points about Obama’s speaking style in his recent article. Parataxis is something I love about poetry and even about some of my favorite experimental novels. Beautiful beads are set out, one by one, and there’s a lot of flexibility in the way the reader or listener strings them together, the connections he sees among them. It’s not, however, how I like my arguments to run. Political speech seems always on the verge between the two: much “arguing” goes on between politicians that seems more like a reading of poetry by each than actual back-and-forth about issues. Fish uses “parataxis” where I have always described political speech as the “wait for the applause after each clause” rhetorical style. I suppose his term is actually in the dictionary, but it’s one that would make my students yawn.