Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The War On Meaning: Words Matter

Chris Matthews has always annoyed me, partly because he calls his show Hardball. Jeez, why all the pretense "power?" The Power Points? The Big Number? It just screams insecurity. It's so puffed-up and strutting. It all makes me think "someone's over-compensating for some real insecurity." I have found myself, lately, screaming at the TV, “Who gives a damn what you think—just give me the story. Stop trying to manufacture fear and confusion in the electorate. Tone back the bells and whistles, drop the volume on the graphics. But most of all stop talking over your guests.”

And now he’s making up words because actual words, real words that already exist, don’t quite do justice to his biases, his prejudices, his point of view. Last week, in reference to the dust-up between the Clintons and Barack Obama, Mr Matthews referred to the Clinton’s "strategery." I lost it for a minute. (I’m not a fan of the politics of divisiveness, so I’m tired of the Clinton’s now. I do have Clinton fatigue, finally, but it's primarily due to the press nastiness, the mean spirited tone of the coverage she gets). Don’t get me wrong, I want both Clintons engaged and working for unity, but Obama has ignited young voters and inspired them. So yes, it is time for a change. And words matter.

But "strategery" was a new wrinkle in the war of words, or should I say the war on words. What’s wrong with “strategy?” Why isn’t the correct word enough? I give a pass to new immigrants—English is a difficult language to master. And I love the creativity of anyone unfamiliar with a language and its limitations who makes up new words to fill in for the words in their native language that don’t exist in English. But a native speaker, especially one with a cable news show, ought to raise the level of discourse, not lower it.
It made me think we’ve all become infected with G.W Bush-mouth. Despite good educations, grown men act like total morons because every time they hear our current President speak he so mangles our common language that it’s now cool to talk like an idiot. Is that the Bush Legacy? The total dumbing-down of everyone? I’m longing for Chris Matthews to retire and Rachel Maddow or Eugene Robinson to replace him. It’s time for real change.

And all of this gets me to Barack Obama. I have never heard any politician (and that includes President Kennedy, the last great orator in the White House) use language more eloquently, more elegantly than Senator Obama. I long to hear him deliver his first State Of The Union address. He will lift us up with the eloquence of his words, he will inspire us to be better, smarter, nicer, more inventive and creative than we have become under the ugly brutality of the Bush administration and its total dumbness, its fear mongering, its give your millionaire friends a tax break kind of governance. Words matter. If you don’t think so, read The Constitution, read The Bill of Rights. It might remind you what we are losing every day we have republicans at the helm. Do you doubt it? Listen to the republicans closely. Do these old white men inspire you?