According to the Sunlight Foundation, the median grade level for Congressional proceedings and speeches has dropped nearly a full grade level from eleventh to tenth grade.
The result of studying the Congressional Record for the past seven years, the Foundation's data also suggests that both conservatives and new congressmen are responsible for dumbing the entire legislative body down.
But I don't know if I buy that when you consider that Republicans own both ends of the scale.
For example, Rep. Rick Mulvaney , R-SC, speaks at an average grade level of 7.9 while Rep. Dan Lungren, R-CA, uses speech consistent with a college senior.
What I do find very interesting is that the majority of "sophisticated" speakers are only sophisticated when using prepared notes.
The Sunlight data tells us when the majority of our leaders have to speak extemporaneously -a five dollar word in itself- they appear just as "dumb" as the rest of us.
Maybe this explains why our leaders say so much yet actually communicate so very little.
Take the last 67 p residential addresses for instance. They were given at an average grade level of 10.7.
Meanwhile, all of President Obama's State of the Union addresses have tallied at a level you'd expect of an eighth grader, according to the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics.
Dumbing Down the MessageI actually think there is something else at work here. It's sound bites.
Our leaders are now trained to talk in them because they know that's what gets them re-elected and what sells in the nightly news. As a result, most politicians can't put together a string of intelligent sentences even if they wanted to.
Again, is this simply a matter of language? .... Or does it hide a bigger underlying issue?