New at YDN
I get at something that's been bothering me for a while:
Krywanczyk and Johnston, quite clearly, have very few political or even aesthetic sensibilities in common -- at least on the surface. Below the skin, they are far closer ideologically than either would be happy to realize. What unites them is the lazy approach to political writing that is everywhere -- left, right and center. To wit: A writer sits down at her desk, hoping to make a political argument. She has a general sense of what she would like to say, but has not yet thought through her argument with precision. She has two choices: 1) Do the slow, hard work of thinking before committing any words to paper, and the even slower, harder work of precise writing; 2) Skip thinking about her argument, and use her energy instead to cover up foolish and half-baked ideas with a mass of jargon and nonsense phrases, illogic and hand-waving. Across all ideological divisions, the overwhelming majority of political writers choose the second option, because it is easier.
Unfortunately, such laziness is not benign. The language that bad political writing debases is a communal resource, and not every instance of slovenly language is innocent. Orwell had his favorite examples: "Marshal Petain was a true patriot"; "The Soviet Press is the freest in the world"; "The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution"; and we might add another, courtesy of our president, "We do not torture." Sentences such as these have long ceased to express anything resembling their ordinary language meanings, and instead are almost exclusively used to make vague and general declarations of political allegiance.