You see this exciting, bold, vibrant graphic peeled from the cover of the most recent issue of Us Weekly (October 4, 2004), the issue that insouciantly proclaims that Britney Spears’ much-hyped marriage last weekend to Kevin What-the-Fuckshisname was “staged” and “faux”?
The circle, which appears alongside the magazine’s logo in the topmost corner of the cover, boasts about there being “12 bonus pages” to the issue, which, I guess, is a worthwile, valuable component, except the “bonus” factor is somewhat diluted by the fact that each and every issue of Us has borne this same tagline since, ummmm…bear with me, here…the May 24, 2004 issue. May. Spring. We’re talking flowers, not fall foliage.
Or, for a better sense of perspective, the cover feature for the very first appearance of this “New! 12 Bonus Pages” promotional graphic was a large portrait of a beaming Jennifer Lopez and the headline, “New Ring, Big Trouble: Jen’s flashing an 8-carat rock from married Marc Anthony. As his wife fumes, is Lopez headed for more heartache?”
Well, we all know how that worked out. She got married. And what’s new is old again.
From “Quick exit from Iraq is likely” by Robert Novak, appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times, September 20, 2004:
“Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush’s decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal.”
From the President’s Remarks at Ask President Bush Event in Derry, New Hampshire, September 20, 2004, notably, a mere few hours after Novak’s column appeared:
“It’s tough as heck in Iraq right now because people are trying to stop democracy. That’s what you’re seeing. And Iraqis are losing lives, and so are some of our soldiers. And it breaks my heart to see the loss of innocent life and to see brave troops in combat lose their life. It just breaks my heart. But I understand what’s going on. These people are trying to shake the will of the Iraqi citizens, and they want us to leave. That’s what they want us to do.
And I think the world would be better off if we did leave — if we didn’t — if we left, the world would be worse. The world is better off with us not leaving. It’s a mistake to pull out.”
Harper’s Magazine has kindly translated from Hebrew a Hasidic Jew petition/prayer distributed during a January protest in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Jewish group was particularly distraught with the rising costs of housing in the neighborhood, a trend that they have affiliated with the trendy young people now populating that area of Brooklyn.
This prayer goes a step beyond playa-hatin’, it likens the hipsters to the plague:
Master of the Universe, have mercy upon us and upon the borders of our village and do not allow the persecution to come inside our home; please remove from upon us the plague of the artists, so that we shall not drown in evil waters, and so that they shall not come to our residence to ruin it.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, left, and John F. Kerry, on the right.
According to today’s Washington Post, the respective teams for the Bush and Kerry campaigns have agreed to a package of three presidential debates in the upcoming weeks, after months of delays on the part of President Bush’s re-election crew. According to the Post:
Matthew Dowd, the Bush-Cheney campaign’s chief strategist, said in an interview earlier this month that Kerry “is very formidable, and probably the best debater ever to run for president.” “I’m not joking,” Dowd added. “I think he’s better than Cicero,” the ancient Roman orator.
Dowd’s comparison to the classic orator of yesteryear initially comes off as quite a stretch, but upon closer examination, he may indeed have a point: both men have a certain notoriety for being, shall we say, excessively verbose. Witness Cicero’s thoughts on aging, from “On Old Age”:
“For the present I have resolved to dedicate to you an essay on Old Age. For from the burden of impending or at least advancing age, common to us both, I would do something to relieve us both though as to yourself I am fully aware that you support and will support it, as you do everything else, with calmness and philosophy. But directly I resolved to write on old age, you at once occurred to me as deserving a gift of which both of us might take advantage. To myself, indeed, the composition of this book has been so delightful, that it has not only wiped away all the disagreeables of old age, but has even made it luxurious and delightful too.”
Good luck making sense of that and translating those words into English from the current Latin incarnation that’s been reproduced above.
Now, let’s see how Kerry fares, with similar subject matter, in this quest for circumlocutory language (from the text of a speech given September 6 in Racine, West Virginia):
“At that convention in New York last week, George Bush actually promised the American people that after four years of failure, he now had a plan to get health care costs under control. Well, if you weren’t suspicious of a plan announced just two months before an election, you got a quick dose of reality the next day. George Bush socked seniors with a 17 percent increase in Medicare. What’s right about that? That’s the biggest increase in Medicare premiums in the history of the program. Raising Medicare costs — that’s W and that’s wrong. Wrong choices, wrong direction.
It’s time for a president who will lead America in a new direction.
At that convention in New York last week, George Bush said that he actually had a new idea. And you know what it was? The bad, old idea of privatizing social security — and cutting your benefits. That’s W and that’s wrong. Wrong choices, wrong direction. It’s time for a president who will lead America in a new direction.”
OK, so Kerry seems to repeat himself a bit more than his highly-esteemed counterpart, but we’ll give him points for clarity. Relative clarity, and relative to words that have aged a full two-thousand years. When compared with the pithy lines and snappy soundbites of the sitting President, however, Kerry does have a way of coming off a bit, well, wooden, if not stony-faced.
RELATED: John Kerry’s “A Plan For Stronger, Healthier Seniors”
Let it be known that we adore, nay, cherish the pearls of wisdom put forth by columnist Frank Rich each and every Sunday in the New York Times. Yes, in the past, we may have thrown the gauntlet on occasion and gotten all up in his business, but we’re willing to let bygones be bygones. And, like our new hero Frank Rich, we’re willing to overuse and abuse a slew of conversational cliches in our writing.
In Rich’s latest missive, “This Time Bill O’Reilly Got It Right,” (which appeared in the September 19, 2004 edition of the Times) readers are treated to a feast of such verbal banalities. To wit:
“If a stopped clock is right twice a day, why shouldn’t Bill O’Reilly be right at least once in a blue moon?”
“This was G.O.P. TV raised to not-ready-for-prime time self-parody, lacking only the studio audience to yuk it up.”
“CNN, the inventor of 24/7 news, once prided itself on being a straight shooter.”
“Now it and Mr. Carville have argued that the line wasn’t blurred here…”
“At some point after 9/11, the news business jumped the shark…”
“Should network news ride into the sunset…”
“The only hope for a successful alternative is not to fight Fox’s fire with imitation Fox fire in the form of another partisan network but to reinvent the wheel with a network that prizes news over endless left/right crossfire…”