Secret Pop

Mar 2, 2006

Economy of Language

I've noticed something about President Bush's syntax. Beyond the peppering of malaprops and the frequent use of incorrect grammar. There is this thing. This thing he does. This thing he does where he states something. This thing he does where he states something and then states it again, adding on a phrase at a time, until you've heard the first part of the sentence twelve times over. Perhaps you've heard it. I heard him speaking in a clip on the news and he said something similar to this, which I place in quotations to indicate that he is the one speaking, but I disclaim by offering that I can't guarantee these were his exact words. Truthfully, I don't even know if he was talking about Istanbul. "This trip to Istanbul. This trip to Istanbul is an important trip. It's an important trip because it is the beginning of a critical relationship. The relationship that is beginning is critical."

I only point this out because it reminds me of my grade school days when assignments were given with a word count or a page length, and we would struggle to fill our paragraphs with empty phrases to meet the minimum requirements. Well, most of us would struggle. I freely admit that most of the time, I had to pare down in rewrites. But no one is saying that's better.

I'm just surprised and dismayed to see so much of the rest of the listening world not mind the vacancy of the rhetoric we are offered. I have been surprised all along to see journalists and pundits sort of shrug and compliment Bush's addresses, in their own way saying, "Cut the guy some slack. Atleast he got through it." But what promise does that hold for future occupants of the office oval? I suspect that, for at least the very next guy, the audience will expect so little that a gifted and effective speaker will be maligned in the press as a show-off and a know-it-all, while a clumsy one will be accused of biting Bush's style. I didn't know it then, but it has been proven over and over since the election of 2000 that you just can't win. "You" being me or anyone who wants what I want.

And a partridge in a pear tree.

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