notes (with glee) that there is a bit of a tet-a-tet in France about whether English ought to be the required second language in schools (follow his links). The French are so thin-skinned and chauvinistic about their language! It’s not that the teacher’s unions and other advocates of linguistic diversity are not interested in having the students learn other languages, it’s just that, well, maybe something other than English would be best. How about Arabic? asks one deputy from the ruling party. He predicts that although English might be the international language today, tomorrow it might be Japanese or Spanish. Yes, indeed, that might prove to be true. I would guess in favor of Japanese, myself.
But seriously. English is a big, fat, and fast moving language. It grows naturally, as it were, from the ground up. No need for an Academy to save the language; it couldn’t keep up. It grows daily, and it has always stolen from any language it has come into contact with (even from Hungarian, see "coach"; or from Hindi, "pundit," "nabob," "thug"; or from Tamil, "pariah"; or from Arabic, "assassin," "azimuth," "admiral."). I also mention, en passant, that it is the language of Shakespeare. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the best poets of other languages learn English just to be able to read the Bard in the original and translate it. The words it allows to be created and used (Shakespeare aside) are something to behold: snafu, punk, sexy to sex up, and boogie and hip-hop, to blues and buzz to beatnik and hippie. And this creative and imperialist nature of the tongue make other languages--French might be an example--seem Mickey Mouse in comparison. English has at least three times the vocabulary of French, and eight or nine times the vocabulary of German or Hungarian. Some might say that the language has too many words! I suppose we could do without doohickey, doodad, or thigamajig, but they sure are fun. Maybe the French ought to be questioned or interrogated, or maybe just asked (a good, old, short word), what the dickens they are up to.
I am not saying that English (and maybe American English in particular) is not capable of using weasel words, as Teddy Roosevelt called them, we just have more options or choices or alternatives or preferences. Pick is good. The French are such snobs, aren’t they? (From sine nobilitate, the phrase Oxford students who were not noble were to put after their names. It was quickly abbreviated to "s. nob.," and then snob became one who wants to seem as though he is of noble birth.) That’s enough. I’m gonna watch the Cardinals of St. Louis play the Red Sox of Boston and listen to the talk about the American sport. I’ll hope for a gopher ball and then a grand slam, or at least a couple of homers. A rhubarb would be fun. I’m betting that Manny Ramirez will be the money player tonight. Is either pitcher a southpaw? I hope no bean balls will be thrown. Did y’all get all that?
A poll in Hawaii
has Bush ahead, 43.3-42.6%, with 12% undecided (four percent margin of error). This cant be good news for Kerry. Gore carried Hawaii, 55-37% in 2000.
Christopher Hitchens has endorsed Bush, perhaps oddly, writing in The Nation. Typical Hitchens. Good read, and revealing.
Time mag poll came out yesterday, with much good news for Bush:
"President Bush has opened a 5 point lead against Senator John Kerry, according the latest Time poll. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 51% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 46% would vote for Senator John Kerry, and 2% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to the TIME poll conducted by telephone from Oct. 19 – 21. Among all registered voters surveyed, Bush leads Kerry 50% to 43%.
Last week’s Time poll found 48% of likely voters would vote for Bush, 47% would vote for Kerry, and 3% would vote for Nader. That poll was conducted Oct. 14-15 and included 865 likely voters." Also note this (a few paragraphs down): Bush’s approval ratings are up to 53%, and women are evenly split (46-46%), whereas two weeks ago Kerry had a lead among women, 50-42%. Keep your eye on the women vote; Kerry has to win them by 10 points, else he has no chance.
On October 23, 1956, the revolution against Soviet Communism in Hungary began. It finally ended in 1989.
Here is a poem by Tibor Tollas, in Hungarian
on the revolution. This
site has a few paragraphs about the Hungarian language, with a translation (next to the Hungarian) of the above poem (a few clicks down). Tibor was a friend.
James Webb claims that the some 30 million Scots-Irish are invisible to the cultural elites, but a candidate for president cant get elected without them. "The president will not win re-election without carrying the votes of the Scots-Irish, along with those others who make up the "Jacksonian" political culture that has migrated toward the values of this ethnic group.
At the same time, few key Democrats seem even to know that the Scots-Irish exist, as this culture is so adamantly individualistic that it will never overtly form into one of the many interest groups that dominate Democratic Party politics. Indeed, it can be fairly said that Al Gore lost in 2000 because the Democrats ignored this reality and the Scots-Irish enclaves of West Virginia and Tennessee turned against him." Read it all. It may be imperfect, but it is interesting. Webb, a novelist (Fields of Fire, etc.), was Reagans Secretary of the Navy, and one of the most highly decorated Marines in the Viet Nam War. His new book, Born Fighting: How the Scots Irish Shaped America, is now available
Anyone who doubts that Theresa Heinz-Kerrys comments about Laura Bush were an intentional assault on the value and intellegence of at-home mothers, should remember two things. 1. When the comments were made, she was under the (mistaken) assumption that Mrs. Bush did not work outside the home. Therefore her comment that Mrs. Bush had never had a "real job" in her adult life HAD to mean that Heinz-Kerry does not consider being a full-time mother a job. It cannot be interpreted any other way. 2. Her "apology" did not include an acknowledgement of motherhood as an occupation. Obviously, she could not have forgotten that Mrs. Bush is a mother. Further--since when is being a wife not considered real work?
The only conclusion to draw from that kind of thinking is either that Ms. Heinz-Kerry is so out of touch with the real work involved in motherhood and wifehood (servants and infinite money may do that to a person) that she does not realize that it is work, or she really does buy into the ideology of the extreme feminists in her party who consider the work of a homemaker beneath the dignity of women and women who perform it as parasites. In any event, my own grandmother (who tends, generally, to vote Democrat) was so incensed by these remarks that she is voting for Bush. She lives in Ohio, by the way. My sense of it is that this kind of talk will most offend women in the mid-west battleground states. Not good for Kerry.
Victor Davis Hanson offers a fine article today explaining Kerry’s electoral problem. VDH suggests that things should be going well for the challenger:
We hear of mayhem daily in Iraq; news on the economic front is mixed; and an entire host of surrogates has defamed George Bush in a manner not seen in decades during a political campaign. Why, then, does Kerry gain little traction, trail in most polls, and perhaps even start to slip further? After all, he is a hard campaigner, has a razor-sharp memory, speaks well, looks statesmanlike at times, raises lots of money, and has a mobilized base working hard for his election.
Hanson offers a number of reasons for this failure, but ultimately concludes (rightly, I think) that "it was a mistake to nominate him in the first place, and a further mistake to add Edwards to the ticket[.] A Gephardt/Lieberman combination, or something reflecting such middle-of-the-road practicality and seriousness — scolding the president from the responsible right on tactical lapses in postwar Iraq — would never have gotten though the extremist primary and embarrassing Deanomania, but it might well have won the general election." As for pith, however, his opening line says it all: "Putin wants Bush, while Arafat prefers Kerry — and that is all we need to know."
Here is RealClearPolitics
Electoral College map, based on recent polls. Note that they give Bush 227 electoral votes to Kerrys 189. This
is the page contaning the details. By the way, the latest line of the MSM (mainstream media) reflects the panic in the Kerry campaign. Since they cannot deny that in the national polls Kerry is behind, and yet some ten of the battleground states are "too close to call," (RealClear calls them toss-ups) it is now possible--so say these wise ones--that Bush may win the popular vote while Kerry will win the electoral college. This will not happen.
This from a reader:
Except for one or two nights, I have been VERY optimistic about this election outcome. I think (and always have thought) Bush will get about 320 EVs, winning WI, NM, IA, possibly either MN or NJ. Right now we have a quesitonable poll out of Detroit giving him a 4-point lead in MI, too. PA is not out of reach.
However, what I find interesting is the near-unanimous view that Kerry was dead until the first debate ("Bush blew it"). Here is a kook scenario that may not be so kookie after all:
*Rove/Bush did not know "which" John Kerry would show up for debate #1. They still did not know what Iraq policy he would try to take. Therefore, I dont think they prepared, somewhat deliberately. Why bother?
*But, there is, IMHO, a more important dynamic going on. (To "buy" this you have to remember Rushs comment that Bush is not out just to win, but to destroy the Dem Party as we know it). Bush knew he was NEVER going to knock out Kerry in one debate, despite the hype. However, if he damaged him too badly in that debate, the DNC and 527s were all ready to start drawing money away from him and focusing on re-taking the senate. Given the short-sightedness of Republicans in NV, WA, IL, AR, AK, and CA in putting up weak candidates, they had a great chance. I believe Bush/Rove saw this as a real threat. How to keep Kerry "in the game" and keep the money at the "Kerry table?"
*The answer is, let him (and the media) think he won. Now, thats damn risky, but W has always been a gambler. Running "against" pro-war Dem senators in 2002 was an incredible risk, and it paid off in every single case.
*Now all the national polls have Bush back up, and most of the state polls, including OH and FL, have Bush scratching back into a lead. (I think, based on Jay Costs analysis at "The Horserace," these polls seriously undercount GOP strength, esp. in the battleground states, too).
Finally, today we have Maureen Down saying that the Dems are depressed and Julianne Malveaux admitting blacks aint gonna come out for Francois. I have thought for two weeks that the election is over, and that the internals of both camps knew it. So what is Francois doing? Hes playing to the base, the base, the base. This late in the game, hes trying to rally the base. Why? Because She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has given him the word that he must NOT have a 350 EV meltdown, lest it split the party, and She . . . needs a party upon which to run in 2008. I think the Dems KNOW they are in danger of a Whig-type collapse.
This past week the Channel One Network, which connects some 12,000 middle, junior, and high schools across the country, sponsored a mock election in which roughly a million teens were polled. The result was a convincing win for the president, who took 55 percent of the popular vote and 393 electoral votes. This comes despite the ongoing bombardment of Democratic propaganda coming from MTV, under the guise of its "Rock the Vote" campaign. Hmm, maybe things aren’t going to be so bad after all. (Hat tip to Instapundit.)
Yesterday, the Washington Times reported on Sen. Kerry’s renewed effort to drum up support among black voters. This follows on the heels of a recently released report (pdf file) by David A. Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which shows Kerry drawing only 69% of black voter support. The only thing more striking than this comparatively low figure is Bush’s 18% (no typo, folks), which is surprisingly high, given the anemic 8% of black votes he actually drew in 2000. Of blacks living in the South, where more than half of black Americans live, 14% gave Bush their support, compared with 72% for Kerry. 12% of this group is still undecided on the question.
What to make of this? Well, a few qualifiers are in order. (1) 11% of blacks expressed a preference for neither candidate (Nader polled 2%), which means many or most may still break for Kerry come November 2. I say “most” not only because history shows the challenger garnering the undecided vote by a 2:1 ratio over the incumbent, but also because the same survey in 2000 polled Gore at 74%, with 14% expressing no preference. Bush’s pre-election figure of 9% in 2000 remained steady at best, with a marginal decline to about 8% when blacks actually cast their ballots.
(2) The poll took place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 10, which covered all of the debates except for the last one. This long time span is puzzling and makes interpreting the results even more difficult than usual. Bush’s national poll numbers trended up from the convention in early September to a peak near month’s end. Any ground gained among blacks during that time may have dropped off during the debates, but this poll does not indicate if those supporting Kerry or Bush were interviewed late or early in the process.
Other noteworthy survey results: (1) Blacks gave their highest favorable rating to Hillary Clinton, 80%, compared with 15% unfavorable and only 5% expressing no preference. Cf. Bush, who drew 30% favorable rating (to 67% unfavorable), and Barack Obama, who also drew only 30% favorables from blacks but only 7% unfavorable. The vast majority of blacks surveyed (63%) either did not know Obama or did not know enough about him to express a preference. For what it’s worth, this survey also sampled the general population and showed a 53% favorable rating for both Bush and Hillary Clinton.
(2) When asked to identify themselves as Democrat, Republican, or Independent, fewer blacks said “Democrat” in 2004 (63%) than in 2000 (74%). Blacks identifying themselves as Republican increased from 4% in 2000 to 10% in 2004. My guess is that part of this is due to a “9/11 effect,” for the increase in GOP I.D. occurred markedly among those aged between 26 and 50 from 2000 to 2002, with it tapering off a bit from 2002 to 2004 in that age group, though rising significantly for those aged 51 and up.
(3) “How would you rate the job that President Bush is doing?” 22% of blacks said excellent or good, compared with 76% saying fair or poor. That 22%, while not a strong endorsement from black Americans, reflects a higher measure of support for the status quo from a portion of America usually depicted as almost uniformly against the president’s policies. While Bill Clinton is scheduled to stump for Kerry in Philadelphia next Monday, this is one extreme makeover that is not likely to take.
Prediction: Barring an eleventh hour smear of Bush, along the lines of the NAACPs despicable ad trying to link Bush to the Jasper, Texas lynching, the president should improve from 8% to at least 12%-14% of the black vote. The decline in black registration as Democrats, the significant support for Bush among conservative blacks (who constituted more than a quarter of the 2004 sample), and the inability of Kerry to clinch the deal like previous Democratic presidential candidates (whose southern roots were a definite help), give me more hope this time around. Bushs experience as commander-in-chief in a dangerous world, coupled with his strong, clear convictions about the war against terrorism and the road to an ownership society (during a pretty good economy), make him a more credible and tested candidate than Kerry.
True, 12%-14% is not exactly a black realignment, but it may reflect greater independence of thinking and action on the part of blacks. They have witnessed one term of a Bush Administration, working with a Republican Congress, and cannot mistake their improved status in America. If Bush is re-elected with a significant increase among black voters, it may signify the beginning of a break through a political logjam that could result in a serious realignment of black political loyalties in the not too distant future.
Via Drudge, John Kerry is apparently planning to declare victory early on Election Day, putting him in position, when the inevitable complications arise, of allowing him to defend what he has already claimed. This was Gores big mistake in 2000, it is argued--by conceding to Bush prematurely, he created "a sense of inevitability in voters minds about Bushs presidency."
Consequently, Ill be expecting to hear Kerrys victory speech at about 6 pm EST.
The Mason-Dixon poll released late yesterday has some very good numbers favorable to Bush from six red (states Bush won in 2000) battleground states: CO, MO, NH, OH, WV, NV. Easy to read. Ohio is the tighest race, Bush leads by one point; he leads by ten in Nevada.
George Will is very clear on what voters responsibilities should be, regardless of those liberals who argue that they are "disanfranchised" when they make mistakes in voting. He points out that 72% of Ohios voters will use the punch-card system (only used 12% nation-wide) and we should be prepared for accusations of "racial disparities", among other things.
Stephen Hayes considers the views of Susan Rice (not Condi), especially on Iraq. She is likely to become Kerry National Security Advisor, should he win.
Michael Barone, one of the most sober analysts in the country, considers what the polls tell us.
This might seem confusing because the media spins it, and because some of them seem contradictory. He clarifies. Read the whole thing, but note this: "Note that George W. Bushs percentages range from 45 to 52 percent while John Kerrys percentages range from 42 to 47 percent. In only one poll does Bush fall below 47 percent, which is Kerrys highest percentage."
Andy Bowers, writing for Slate, explains why Minnesota is up for grabs this year. Powerline
considers this a reasonably balanced look at presidential politics in the state, and says: "While Minnesota has historically been Democratic, there is little doubt that demographically, it is a red state. The only question is whether its transition to a Republican majority will be complete by November 2. For what it’s worth, those in charge of the Bush campaign in Minnesota say they are cautiously optimistic. The party’s polling shows the race even."
It looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger will come to Ohio the weekend before the vote. This cant be to Bushs disadvantage!
John Zvesper writes a very thoughtful article from Europe and considers the Europeans’ view that Bush thinks of the USA in messianic terms; that he sees America as the savior of the world. The Europeans think that what they call Bush’s Republican messianism is less acceptable than Woodrow Wilson’s more acceptable Democratic version. Let Zvesper thoughtfully walk you through all this. It’s a good trip. And he has some advice for Bush that will (or should) lead his critics to understand that Bush thinks that political moderation is a virtue, and the source of that moderation is the standard of natural human equality and not an unprincipled and unlimited "multilateralism." Here is the Bush speech of September 11, 2002 that Zvesper
Viewfromaheight notes two Colorado polls, one putting Coors over Salazar in the race for the U.S. Senate, 45-40, and the Gallup with Coors 49-48%, thus erasing a 9 point deficit two weeks ago. CORRECTION: Salazar is leading by one point, according to Gallup. Sorry.
The Mystery Pollster claims that--appearances to the contrary notwithstanding--the Ohio polls are consistent if you consider, he argues, what he calls the incumbent rule: He claims that because Bushs numbers (47 or 46% in five polls) are consistent, the variation is in the Kerry, Nader, or undecided numbers. In short, if these numbers for Bush true and if the incumbent rule is true, the mystery pollster claims that Bush is headed for defeat. Big ifs, of course. But this is pretty clear stuff, even if you dont agree with it, it is still worth reading.
Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review, is speaking today at the Ashbrook Center. He will explain what is at stake in the lection! I invite you to listen to it live by clicking on his name. It starts at 12:30 p.m.
Ken Blackwell, Ohios Secretary of State wants those voters who use provisional ballots to sign an affidavit saying they understand that if they are voting in the wrong district their vote may not count. The Demos are up in arms! In the meantime Blackwell has appealed the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. I hope there are enough rational judges to see that the original ruling by District Judge Carr is outrageous and leans toward regime change. The Demos want nothing else but an institution of a sort of Rousseauian participatry democracy or general will! Well soon see if the rule of law still has meaning in Ohio.
I am blogging on Ohio for NROs Battlegrounders, along with a bunch of other good folks and I said yesterday that only two Republican candidates won Ohio without winning the presidency(1944 and 1960). I was corrected by a reader. He said this: "Actually it has happened 3 other times:
1856 - John Fremont won Ohio but lost to James Buchanan;
1884 - James Blaine won Ohio but lost to Grover Cleveland;
1892 - Benjamin Harrison won Ohio but lost to Grover Cleveland.
So in the 37 elections since the founding of the Republican Party, Republicans have lost 14 elections.
In those 14 lost elections, 5 times Republicans have carried Ohio but lost the Presidency -- or about 36% of the time.
Even if just restricting the count to elections since 1944 (a fairly arbitrary time period), Republicans lost 7 races, two of those while carrying Ohio -- or still almost 30% of the time.
So while its certainly not the norm for a Republican to win Ohio and lose the overall race, it certainly is not that unusual either." I thank the kind reader.
Joseph Knippenberg fears that Kerry’s works do indeed reveal his faith, and that’s precisely what he fears. Kerry has thus far campaigned "as the candidate of unlimited, illimitable human power." Andrew Busch says that voters are weary of the charges and the countercharges in the campaign. They are ready for something more positive.
Bush should go positive at the end: "If Bush decides to go largely positive at the end, he should tell the story of his administration straight into the camera, and then explain clearly what he wants to do (including the "ownership society"). A heartfelt narrative would be better than a recitation of familiar campaign lines. It may even be time to revive the art of the election-eve 15 to 30 minute televised broadcast. All indications are that voters’ interest is high this year, as it was in 1992 when Ross Perot had surprising success with that format." Bill Safire also thinks that the purveyors of fear will lose.
Another note on Arnold Schwarzenegger: The California governor said on Monday that his speech backing President Bush at the Republican Convention in August resulted in a cold shoulder from his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of the famously Democratic Kennedy family.
"Well, there was no sex for 14 days," Schwarzenegger told former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in an on-stage conversation in front of 1,000 people.
"Everything comes with side effects," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Arizona Republic runs a story on Edward Prescott, the Arizona State University professor who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize for economics. He disagrees with Kerry on taxes and outsourcing.
"When you cut tax rates, employment always goes up. The idea that you can increase taxes and stimulate the economy is pretty damn stupid."
A FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll released this afternoon found Bush ahead 49-44%, while the ABC poll says that Kerry is leading, 50-47%. ABC also found that the proposed amendment to the Ohio state constitution banning gay marriage is leading, 48-45%. The Ohio poll (University of Cincinnati), also released today has Kerry ahead, 48-46%. Also, Voinovich lead Democrat Eric Fingerhut for the Senate, 62-35%.
NLT readers also may be interested to know that after weeks of indecision on the issue, Gov. Arnie has endorsed Proposition 71. Prop. 71 is the Embryonic Stem Cell initiative that devotes $3 billion of tax-payer money to research on stem cells collected from human embryos. Though I am not surprised by his lack of circumspection on the moral front, it is strange coming from a man who was supposed to be the savior of California’s fiscal woes. $3 billion!?!?
Well, it didn’t take long for Gov. Schwarzenegger to make good on his non-partisan approach to partisan politics. In an article from the LA Times, he says he endorsed Prop. 62 because Californians "deserve to have an open primary so that they can vote for whomever they’d like, no matter what party a candidate represents." He added, "An open primary is an important reform that will lead to more mainstream legislators from each party coming to the Capitol to solve California’s problems." Big Arnold did not define what a mainstream legislator is, but one might infer that it has something to do with the degree to which one holds fast to the principles of one’s party. I’m open to a correction on this point.
The article concludes by reminding readers of the following:
Californians approved an initiative similar to Proposition 62 in March 1996 and used a primary election system that allowed voters to cast ballots regardless of party registration in 1998 and 2000.
The U.S. Supreme Court, acting on a lawsuit filed by party leaders, declared that system unconstitutional in 2000. The court ruled that only political party members had a right to pick their party’s candidates.
Supporters of Proposition 62 said they have addressed the court’s concerns and believe this version of a blanket primary would survive a court test.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the Times’ Michael Ramirez literally draw my conclusion.
David Brooks thinks this: "Incredibly, Kerry is launching attacks that play up doubts voters have about him. Over the past few days, he has underscored the feeling that he will say or do anything to further his career." His attacks are costing him the campaign, Brooks argues.
Ken Masugi at The Remedy posts about crime fiction novelist, Andrew Klavan, who argues that stories told by American artists need to be more inclusive--i.e., include more characters with conservative values. In particular, he mentions that it would be nice to see a character who is a "self-fulilled housewife." Bravo! I could not agree more after having subjected myself for a second time (the first was only for 15 minutes--it was all I could take) to the new ABC melo-drama Desperate Housewives. I watched it the first time because I knew it was going to be a hit, suspected I knew why, and had a notion I might write something about it. But it was so god-awful pedestrian, over-wrought, and full of cliches (and yes, I get that it is supposed to be a parody) that I couldn’t take it.
I watched it again last night because I have heard about little else from my female friends and aquaintances for the last two weeks. I must admit to being somewhat mystified by their approval of the series since most of these women are, in fact, housewives and the show is very clearly meant to belittle that occupation (the characters are all neurotic in one way or another). But then, last night about 1/2 hour into it, it hit me. The Villain is a man--indeed a husband. This does not bode well for the health of our society or our marriages. As I realized this, I turned off the TV and looked at my husband and suggested we find something better to do.
Abigail Thernstrom gives yet another reason why Bush should be re-elected: To do something serious with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At the moment it is the plaything of
Mary Frances Berry, and she plays hard and loose with both facts and rules. Bush will have a chance to appoint new members when he is re-elected.
Jimmy Carter was interviewed by a Scottish newspaper. He is promoting his new novel on the Civil War (which, I regret, is not the first thing on my reading list). Of course, Carter, who just couldnt help himself, says some outrageous things. This is very much worth reading, but youll probably get as angry as the guys at Powerline did!
This Rocky Mountain News polls finds that Bush has increased his lead by 4 points compared to last month. Bush now leads by 5 points, 47-42%. The increase is due, they claim, to these three factors: "He narrowed Kerrys advantage among independent voters from 30 points to 7.
And he padded his lead among Republicans by 4 points, while Kerrys lead among Democrats stayed the same.
Perhaps most important, the president turned a 7-point deficit among women into a 2-point advantage." He continues to lead Kerry among men by 9 points.
According to Martin Peretz, the editor of The New Republic, John Kerry’s opinions on the Mid-East and Israel are "muddled foolishness." He writes this good (and a bit longer than the norm) op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.
This editorial from The Economist (Oct 9, 2004; not available on line) on writing, or talking, for that matter, is very good. I reprint the whole of it, and hope that some students are paying attention (I have been reading the freshmen’s papers on Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus!). It begins with a quote from Churchill that I use in every class.
It is entitled, "Out with the long."
"Short words are best," said Winston Churchill, "and old words when short are the best of all."
And, not for the first time, he was right: short words are best. Plain they may be, but that is their strength. They are clear, sharp and to the point. You can get your tongue round them. You can spell them. Eye, brain and mouth work as one to greet them as friends, not foes. For that is what they are. They do all that you want of them, and they do it well. On a good day, when all is right with the world, they are one more cause for cheer. On a bad day, when the head aches, you can get to grips with them, grasp their drift and take hold of what they mean. And thus they make you want to read on, not turn the page.
Yes, yes, you may say, that all sounds fine. But from time to time good prose needs a change of pace – a burst of speed, a touch of the brake, a slow swoop, a spring, a bound, a stop. Some might say a shaft of light and then a dim glow, some warp as well as weft, both fire and ice, a roll on the drum as much as a toot on the flute. Call it what you will. The point is that to get a range of step, stride and gait means you have to use some long words, some short, and some, well, just run of the mill, those whose place is in the mid range. What’s more, though you may find you can write with just short words for a while, in the end you don’t have to give in and reach for one of those terms which, like it or not, is made up of bits, more bits and yet more bits, and that adds up to a word which is long?
Then there is the ban on new words, or at least a puff for the old. Why? Time has moved on. The tongues of yore need help if they are to serve the way we live now. And, come to that, are you sure that the Greeks and Gauls and scribes of Rome were as great as they are cracked up to be? Singe my white head, they could make long words as well as any Hun or Yank or French, home de lettres who plies his trade these days.
Well, yes, some of those old folks words were on the long side, but long ones were by no means the rule. And though the tongue in which you read this stole words from here and there, and still does, at the start, if there was one, its words were short. Huh, you might say, those first “words” were no more than grunts. Yet soon they grew to be grunts with a gist, and time has shown that, add to the length of your words as you may, it is hard to beat a good grunt with a good gist.
That is why the short words, when old, are still the tops. Tough as boots or soft as silk, sharp as steel or blunt as toast, there are old, short words to fit each need. You want to make love, have a chat, ask the way, thank your stars, curse your luck or swear, scold and rail? Just pluck an old, short word at will. If you doubt that you will find the one you seek, look at what can be done with not much: “To be or not to be?” “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light,” “We are such stuff as dreams are mad on,” “The year’s at the spring/And day’s at the morn…/The lark’s on the wing;/The snail’s on the thorn.”
It can be done, you see. If you but try, you can write well, and say what you want to say, with short words. And you may not need a lot of them: some words add just length to your prose. That piece of string, the one whose length you all the time have to guess, is no less fine if it is short than if it is long; on its own, its length is not good, not bad, just the sum of its two halves. So it is with words. The worth of each lies in the ends to which it is put. Tie your string well, or ill, and its length counts for naught. Make your point well with short words, and you will have no use for long ones. Make it not so well, and you will be glad you kept them crisp. So, by God, will those who have read you.
Washington Post runs an articles on the Daschle-Thune race in South Dakota (and notes the others; can be clicked on the box on the right). While the article is nothing remarkable, it worth a quick read. In Oklahoma and Colorado GOP senators have retired. In Alaska the GOP senator was apppointed (the governors daughter). There are five Demo seats up due to retirement (Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Lousiana). Go to Realclearpolitics for the poll n umbers in each state. Although most are said to be tossups, my guess is that the GOP will take Georgia, Lousiana, South Carolina; probably North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado as well (the latter three will be much closer). The fact that Bush is going to take all these states by handsome margins (save Florida which will be closer) will help the GOP candidates. Illinois will be a turnover, of course. Alaska can go either way. Also note that in most these races (including, most oddly, in South Dakota) the Demo candidates are trying not to identify themselves with Kerry. Bad sign for Kerry.
Bill Safire explains that Kerry used the fact of the Cheney daughter’s lesbianism was "part of a deliberate Kerry campaign strategy." The campaign thought it was a no-lose proposition. "One purpose was to drive a wedge between the Republican running mates. President Bush supports a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a union of a man and a woman; Cheney has long been on record favoring state option, but always adds that the president sets administration policy. That rare divergence of views is hardly embarrassing.
The sleazier purpose of the Kerry-Edwards spotlight on Mary Cheney is to confuse and dismay Bush supporters who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, to suggest that Bush is as soft on same-sex as Kerry is, and thereby to reduce a Bush core constituency’s eagerness to go to the polls."
The already famous New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind on George W. Bush (not in his favor, of course) begins with these two paragraphs (I assume that quote is honest, and that is not to Bartlett’s advantage):
"Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ’if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.’ The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
’Just in the past few months,’ Bartlett said, ’I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.’ Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ’This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .’"
This BBC report on a mass grave in Iraq is very much worth reading even though it reports on something horrible. "The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said." And: "One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men.
The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face." There is more.
Roger L. Simon loved Team America. I guess I had better go and see it! "The good news, however, is that the first major studio release about the War on Terror is actually in favor of the war. Even though Team America accidentally destroys the Louvre and the Sphinx, among numerous other monuments of civilization, and seems to revel in or be oblivious to collateral damage of all sorts, you know they are doing the right thing in the end. Terrorists are seen as objects of derision, of course. But the true targets of the filmmakers venom are the narcissistic Hollywood actors who pretend to oppose the war..."
The new Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll is out. Bush leads Kerry by 8 points, 52-44% among likely voters. Two weeks ago Gallup showed Bush ahead by 3 points among likely voters, 49-46%. Here are the details of the poll. I watched CNN at 6 pm tonight and note that they talked about as an even race! The talking head never mentioned the 8 point difference, but did show it on a graph (compared it to the 49-46 Bush lead among registered voters). No matter, four or five more days and they will not be able to spin numbers.
A reader brings to my attention this comment on polls by Steven Den Beste (with an interesting graph). Den Beste thinks this:
"In September, I think there was a deliberate attempt to depress Kerrys numbers, so as to set up an October comeback. Of course, the goal was to engineer a bandwagon. Public opinion isnt usually as ephemeral as these polls suggest that it is. But there can be long-term trends, and I find it interesting that such a thing actually does show through. Its quite striking how close some of the data falls to the long term trendlines which Ive drawn in. The reason the Democrats and the MSM are getting frantic is that theyre losing." This is not an unreasonable or silly opinion. There is no question in my mind that the MSM is covering Kerrys rear and they are incompletely reporting the facts of the campaign, or that they are intentionally misleading. I also understand that polls--in large measure--are political acts, yet it is very difficult to hide the movement toward one candidate or another, especially near the end (unless, of course, the election is as close as the 2000 election was).
The Belmont Club reflects on the Den Beste analysis and says this, in part: "Follow the link to his graph, which visually conveys more information than can be easily described. The most striking thing about the Kerry trend line is that it suggests a system that has been maxed out, like an engine which has reached the limit of its design. That suggests a far larger problem for Liberals then the mere weakness of a Kerry candidacy. To a substantial extent, Kerry is a proxy for an abstract candidate called Anybody But Bush. The failure to get maximum acceleration when the Left needs it most could indicate that its traditional political instruments are losing traction. Celebrity endorsements, mainstream media support, favorable reviews from academia plus street events rooted in the old antiwar-civil rights movement -- the old winning combinations -- no longer have an overwhelming effect. That doesnt mean they have no effect. We will know whether Steven den Bestes long term trend lines are correct in a little over two weeks.
A big Kerry win will indicate will indicate that the Liberal position is after all, a stable one, and that the system is returning to its equilibrium state after an accidental derangement occasioned by September 11. George Bush will have been identified as an aberration; the United Nations and the transatlantic alliance will reassume their accustomed places. The old order will be restored. But a Kerry loss or even a narrow win will suggest that a permanent sea-change has taken place."
Ron Fournier of AP analyzes the battleground states. "Sixteen days before Election Day, the president needs to scrape together at least 48 of the remaining 99 votes from tossup states to win re-election. Kerry needs 53 to stop him.
The AP analyzed poll data, both public and private, and interviewed analysts in key states in the days since the final debate Wednesday. While public and private polls suggested Bush may be gaining ground on Kerry, the consensus was that the race was remarkably close going into the last two full weeks of campaigning.
A surge by either candidate - 3 or 4 percentage points in national polls - could shift the eight states and the 99 electoral votes to one candidate, putting him on course for a 300-plus electoral romp.
That would put other states on the bubble - Democratic-leaning Minnesota, Michigan, Maine and perhaps even New Jersey if Bush takes off; and GOP-leaning Colorado, West Virginia and Arizona if Kerry gains steam."
A New Hamshire poll shows the race dead even. Chris Suellentrop for Slate asks: Is it time for Democrats to panic? "If youre a John Kerry supporter, heres some bad news to chew on: Despite winning all three debates according to opinion polls, Kerry hasnt taken the horse-race lead in a single poll thats been released since the third debate, and he seems to be trending the wrong way." And this: "if youre searching for the Occams Razor explanation for Kerrys small but noticeable slide in the polls since Wednesday, his comment about Mary Cheney is probably it."