Sarcasm risky in political speeches

September 7th, 2008 - 10:56 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, Sept 7 (ANI): While sarcasm works best in appealing to the party base, it is not as effective in reaching swing voters, says a leading political expert referring to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palins vice presidential acceptance speech.

The speech has come under fire from some critics who said the speech had a tone of sarcasm.

Larry Powell, Ph.D., with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), says any form of humor can be risky in a political campaign.

The Democrats started off their convention appealing to their base, but step by step they moved toward appealing to swing voters, Powell said.

Palin had a different task and that was to prove that she was up to the task of being a vice presidential nominee so she continued speaking to the base.

People use it to show wit, but two things can occur. First, there is the potential for being misinterpreted or coming across too strong. If you are too sarcastic, its not seen as being funny, but mean. Second, with some topics, if one uses humor to discuss them, one can be viewed as not taking the issue seriously, Powell added.

The most effective form of humor is self-deprecating humor, Powell said.

Powell gives the example of former President Ronald Reagans debate against Walter Mondale when he said, Im not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience.

In that case, humor was used to diffuse the issue of Reagans age and it worked perfectly. Self deprecating has the advantage of making you seem real and not taking yourself too seriously, Powell said. (ANI)

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