Sunday, January 09, 2011

Let Me Just Say This About That

Is there anything more inane and banal than the chatter of TV newspuppets desperately trying to fill time during wall-to-wall coverage of a breaking story? (Favorite line from CNN yesterday: "It's usually a pretty a bad thing to get shot in the head, is it not?")

Yes, there is: the inevitable released "statements" of politicians who want to remind us that they are strongly opposed to bad things and that they are not afraid to tell us in the gassiest verbiage possible. Let's parse this example, from Senator Diane Feinsten, although you could do this with just about any of the statements that were being dispensed yesterday in the aftermath of the massacre in Arizona--they're all pretty much interchangeable:
My heart sank when I heard the news of the tragedy in Tucson [at least she didn't say she was "shocked and saddened]. My thoughts and prayers are with Representative Giffords and her family, the family of Judge Roll and all the other victims and their loved ones. ["Thoughts and prayers" always come as package in these statements--they are the very currency of concern.] Representative Giffords is a beacon of courage and hope [Hope is often exemplified in beacons. And you seldom see a "beacon of disappointment] in our nation right now. She bravely pursued her duties as a member of Congress, despite having been the target of vitriolic political rhetoric in the past. [Who in your game hasn't been? And the phrase "vitriolic political rhetoric" manages to be both noxiously trendy and tediously shopworn.]
This senseless violence [as opposed to the sensible kind] has no place in a free society [thanks for telling us]. She and the other victims were engaged in the very essence of democracy, an elected representative meeting face-to-face with her constituents.
I have seen firsthand the effects of assassination ["let's talk about me"], and there is no place for this kind of violence in our political discourse [Once again, if you're wondering if there is a place for "this kind" of violence, the answer is no]. It must be universally condemned [condemnation is perhaps the strongest word a politician can use and it's usually only deployed against killers and countries we're about to go to war against]. We do not yet know the gunman’s motivations, but I am convinced that we must reject extremism and violent rhetoric. 
That last sentence is downright confusing, because it could be taken to mean that we must reject extremism and violent rhetoric as the gunman's motivations. Which is pretty much the opposite of what she means, I'm sure.

What the heck, let's look at a few more.  I've italicized the high notes. Feel free to sing along.

From President Obama:
We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.
From Speaker Boehner:
The thoughts and prayers of the House and the nation are with Congressman Giffords and her family.  We're also praying for the families of Judge Roll, and all of those who were taken from us yesterday so senselessly. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serves...Such acts of violence have no place in our society

From Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts:
Today’s news of the shooting of my colleague Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and her constituents is shocking and horrifying, and my deepest condolences go out to the families of those who lost their lives today in such a senseless and tragic event...Gabby was doing today what she loved best and what all of us in Congress consider a great responsibility and a true honor - to meet with and listen to our constituents. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family, and with all of those wounded today in the hopes for a full and speedy recovery.
And what about John McCain?
U.S. Senator John McCain issued a statement condemning the shooting attack of Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabriella Giffords, Judge John Roll and several others.
“I’m deeply saddened and shocked [he's confused--he means "shocked and saddened] at the tragedy that has taken place in my home state of Arizona. The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the deaths of other individuals is a terrible tragedy and one that has shocked me and our nation,’ Mr. McCain said in a statement...
The Arizona Republican also noted that he is “deeply saddened” to hear of Mr. Roll’s death. The Arizona Republican termed the incident a "senseless act of violence."
Mr. McCain noted that his thoughts and his prayers are with the Giffords and Roll family. 
 Of course he did. We expect nothing less.