OK, I don't know if this is a *manly* skill, but it's a skill, and I've been having a hard time -- for years -- saying succinctly and effectively what I want to see happen in the world of discourse, which is logic and civility -- light, rather than heat; words that clarify rather than befuddle.
That may have been succinct, but not effective.
That is, sound bites are more useful than sound arguments. It seems that stupid things are easier to say in a catchy way than the truth.
You can look up a list of fallacies online, and they're fun to browse through, but -- what's the alternative?
One example of bad rhetoric. (Please, don't derail if you agree with what you think her point might have been; I'm using the rhetoric, not the politics.) Bush had given a speech comparing Osama bin Laden to Hitler and Lenin, and saying if the world had dealt with them sooner rather than later, things might have gone better. Hillary Clinton, then running for President, said:
"George Bush's faulty and offensive historical analogies aren't going to end the war in Iraq, make America safer or bring our troops home."
There's a lot to unpack here, but the bare sentence is that analogies don't end wars. Which is true, and not particularly interesting. It's obvious why she said something true (and trivial) as the main sentence. It's easy to dispute a sentence -- you just say, "Wrong!" -- but harder to dispute subordinate clauses. Which is why a bad-rhetoric pundit rarely just says "Mr. Smith sucks"; he'll say "Mr. Smith's suckiness leads to a climate of awfulness."
The real purpose of H Clinton's statement was to say that the analogy was faulty (but it's a subordinate clause, so she couldn't really say how) and we should be offended by it (on behalf of whom? Hitler? bin Laden?), and to imply that Bush was bad.
If she'd wanted to explain why his statement was wrong, she wouldn't have buried "faulty" like that, or changed the subject in the next sentence ("Americans are tired of the president's efforts to play politics with national security and practice the politics of division"). She could have said, "George Bush's analogy is faulty, because..." and thus contributed to our knowledge. But it probably wouldn't have been nearly as quotable if she had. What a shame -- because that's the part that would have been worth hearing: substantively refuting your opponent's position.
...but picking apart *bad* rhetoric isn't enough (and did you notice how I got all bogged down in one sentence?). I want to promote *good* rhetoric. Socrates did it (with a method most of us find annoying now). What can we do to promote people saying things clearly and with evident truthfulness?