It is easier to criticize than to do, easier to condemn than create
Villainy, condescension, and indignation
It is easier to complain that to act; it is easier to criticize than to create. So it is that I find Mitt Romney’s unrelenting attacks on Barrack Obama as contemptible as they are hypocritical.
I see the attacks as contemptible on a couple of fronts: first, they give comfort to the enemies of the United States. As President Obama continues to struggle with the myriad and complex factors involved in any international/diplomatic situation, Governor Romney just says that the president is wrong. The attack on the American compound in Benghazi was certainly planned to commemorate the terrorist activities of September 11, 2001. For Governor Romney to condemn the president/United States’ for not protecting Americans abroad is as cowardly as it is ignorant. As suicide bombers have proven time and again, stopping someone who is willing to die is close to impossible. Any security specist, body guard or Secret Service agent who is being hinest with you will tell you that a terrorist or assassin willing to die is almost impossible to stop. Terrorists and assassins have the luxury of plotting and probing for vulnerabilities over and over. They can probe and test again and again, and they only need to find the security gap once to succeed. In general, defenders mostly react.
If Democrats had criticized President George W. Bush for his failure to protect the Pentagon—the Pentagon, for crying out loud—against terrorists would have been something akin to suicide. And rightly so. For those who are unclear on the concept, the American compound in Benghazi was a villa in a somewhat unstable country inn North Africa. The Pentagon is not.
Romney’s insightful comments included, “that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed.” Military and diplomatic officials who have struggled to help achieve piece in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia—while others were storing up their fortunes on earth—probably had some inkling about the danger. The casualties of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, probably had intimations of danger. Even the Libyans who suffered under Ghaddafi rule might have been unsurprised.
Libya is in a precarious position. This attack on Americans brings shame to a country that is attempting to restore its reputation as it struggles to achieve stability and security.
Governor Romney’s proclamation emphasizes his naiveté. His suggestion that the attack in Libya represents a lack of leadership is as cheap a shot as is possible. It is a clown observation, bro.
It is not unfair to suspect that I am not Governor Romney’s biggest fan. To my mind, his approach is similar to the Monty Python sketch in which an “argument” consists of one person making a statement that the other contradicts. Whatever the current administration does is bad, but Mr. Romney’s alternative is that he promises that he has a plan to do better. (Said plan to be announced at a later date…following the election.)
The hypocrisy is in one who consistently condemns takers, unceasingly attacks a creator without offering the merest shadow of an alternative.
In (weak) defense of the Romney strategy, it seems that two greatest national traits have become indignation and blame. Amid carnage and drought, human trafficking and unemployment that continues to dog so many Americans, the August 22, 2012, Washington Post’s “Free for All” discloses these issues that catalyze readers in the DC area to action (or at least to write):
Darrell Knuffke from Mancos, Colorado on “doubling down”: “Can we agree that we’ve doubled down quite enough and that it is time to ban the words from The Post’s pages?”
The second message, from Jerrold Levinson of University Park, cites a September 18 article, “In leaked video, Romney disdains a ‘dependent’ 47%....” The writer claims that the article “is not the first nor will it be the last, to use “diffuse” where “defuse” was wanted instead.”
Am I wrong to be too lazy to seek the article to see the misuse? Would I be selfish if I prefer that the actual error be cited? Am I lax to note that I sometimes use the wrong word even though I know perfectly well what I should have used? Do I detect a gotcha moment?
Lest one suppose that that is the writer’s hobbyhorse, the one error he knows and on which he pounces at each opportunity, but that he suggests that the Post “hold a yearly tutorial for [its] writers on pairs of words that are easily and regularly confused but which should not be confused in the pages of papers of record like the Post. ((Other pairs that come to mind: flout/flaunt, decry/descry, innervate/enervate.)”
He might also suggest a tutorial on the use of like/such as. Or why only papers of record should be held to the standard of good usage. Or how he seems to condescend not only to the undereducated writers but also the newspaper that employs them.
Randall Miller (Ocean View, Delaware) raises the issue of letters that refer to letters: “Am I the only one confused by the need and the method of referring to the articles that prompted a letter to the editor? I’m having trouble even explaining what has prompted this letter.”
Yet oddly, I have no trouble explaining why I had no desire to read the rest of his letter.
Mary Erickson of Columbia, Maryland, writes to complain about John Kelly’s column “For unto them a cub was born.” “[D]id he give a thought,” she asks, “that comparing the birth of the new panda cub to the biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ might be considered as…irreverent?”
“To use this passage of scripture as comedic background—to parody what is holy to people of faith—is at best tasteless and, to Christians, blasphemous.”
I admit to finding John Kelly’s humor sophomoric, but without thumping my chest or the Bible, I can say that I am a practicing Christian who neglected to take any offense whatsoever. I believe that if offense is taken, it should be where it was intended. I pray that Ms Erickson never have to suffer through the Reduced Shakespeare’s performance of The Bible; The Complete Word of God (abridged). When I have seen it at sold-out performances in Washington, the audience was too busy choking with laughter to denounce the company for blasphemy.
I remember reading it, but not whether it was a headline (which Kelly would not likely have written) or in the column, but, given the panda frenzy that accompanies the birth of a panda, I found the tongue-in-cheek (no sexual) line appropriate.
Turn the other cheek, baby. (I hope that isn’t perceived as sexist.)
Peter D. McConnell from Germantown, Maryland, wrote: “It was wrong for a national newspaper to stereotype West Virginia University fans.”
I know the joy of a gotcha. The problem is that my hose is glass and I am ever aware that I am fallible. Oh, so fallible.
I also have seen and made errors in print, errors that I knew were errors as soon as I saw them in print. Sometimes, by the time an article or column is in final draft, I have read it so many times that I know exactly what I think it says and so that is what I read, not what I actually wrote. (By the way, I originally wrote “rote.”) Sometimes spelling check does the old boy in. Sometimes a copy editor misses it.
Some years ago I wrote a series about the Bill of Rights that was run in a national newspaper. When I included a headline that referred to Amendment I, a colleague who was proofreading a galley proof asked why I was being prissy. “Nobody says Amendment I,” he said. “Everybody calls it the First Amendment.”
I crossed out Amendment one and in the margin scrawled “First Amendment” and returned it to the graphic designer. When she called to say that she had made the change, she asked whether I wanted to see it before it ran. I said no. There is just the one change, go ahead.
The next day I was offsite when a reader chuckled and said that there was a mistake in that day’s newspaper. “Oh,” I said. “Where?”
He pointed to the page. “Right here,” he said. “The Fist Amendment.”
It was not the last error I published, but it was the last time that I released a print publication for printing without reviewing it.