Friday, April 9, 2010

An example of the well-founded principle that the use of the passive in political discourse generally signals childish incoherency of thought

Take the following sentence:

"It has been crystal clear for more than a century that modern technology makes war so overwhelmingly destructive that it should no longer be allowed." whom?

An obvious question, one would think. (Along with the question, "And your alternative is...what, exactly?) Equally obviously, a question the author of the blog post in question would probably go to any lengths to avoid having to face straightforwardly like a man. (My guess is that he would say, "The United Nations" and then plead a just-remember prior engagement as an excuse to avoid being cross-examined on the UN's record of past accomplishments.)

But the point of my post is simply this: try rewriting that sentence without using the passive voice.

"It has been crystal clear for more than a century that modern technology makes war so overwhelmingly destructive that..."

What's the subject of that dependent clause going to be?

See, if you can't take your political proposals and cast them entirely in the active voice, then you don't have political proposals at all. You're just flattering yourself with the illusion of having engaged in political thought.

A note to Rich Lowry


It doesn’t matter what Romney does or says. From the day he managed to get that Romneycare abomination passed, I swore I’d never vote for him for anything at all. If he ever for a moment thought that any consequences would follow other than the disastrous ones that have in fact ensued, then he is too stupid to be entrusted with so much as the maintenance of my neighbor’s backyard pool. If he knew what was going to happen and cynically did it anyway because he saw some sort of personal political advantage to him, then he can go someplace where he’ll never need ice skates.

But either way, there’s absolutely nothing that can possibly excuse Romneycare, or induce me to put a checkmark next to that fool’s name in any election under the sun. I held my nose and voted for McCain, but I’d’ve sat it out rather than voting for Romney. The passage of – indeed, the very proposal of – Romneycare should have meant the instant and permanent end of Romney’s career as an electable official under the Republican Party flag. The fact that it did not, goes a long way to explain why I’ve never bothered to register as a Republican and why I see the GOP as the weakest of weak reeds in the defense of the American common good.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Pierce