One thing a lot of my students struggle with is making their logic evident for their claims and support. They can claim something and feel like they proved it with a few follow-up sentences, but often they’re using a different logic and drawing on knowledge that a reader might not have. Of course, most, if not all, writers struggle with this, which is why we get feedback on our writing.
But I have to wonder if Sarah Palin got enough good feedback on her Washington Post column, which seems so littered with logical jumps that I have no idea how she came to her conclusions. Not that the column was all bad. I could actually follow her overall claim, which is more than I can say for her speeches. Kudos, Palin, for a clear thesis statement: “I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.”
But your support falls flat because you don’t explain your logic—if there is a logic to it. Help us out. We’re uninformed readers, so tell us what the cap-and-trade plan entails. You claim that energy is going to get outsourced to other countries. How so? You claim this bill will kill energy production in the US. How so? You claim that your plan can help the environment. How so? I understand your argument has constraints: a paper can only print so long of a column. Perhaps if this was so important to write, you could have asked for more room, offered a website where we could understand more of a concept. Given us some tools to understand your claims a bit more. Something. Anything.
But perhaps you don’t need logic, Ms. Palin. Perhaps your argument’s rhetoricity is found mostly in your by-line. Ethos does it all: if we like you, we agree with you. If we think you’re a dimwit, we disagree.
Or perhaps I’m missing your point. Perhaps your explicit argument is secondary to your purpose: “Remember, I’m here and I matter!”