This was Hillary Clinton's argument against Barack Obama's celebrity gained through his superior oratory skills. And I'm sure it's an argument we'll continue to hear up 'til November. So, let's redefine the word.
Rhetoric is simply the ability to use language effectively. It's a science. It's a communication skill. And it's extremely effective.
You could be saying all the right things. But if you're not getting attention, or capturing any imagination, it's ineffective. Rhetoric should be admired. If nothing else, because it works.