Ok, I’m no Romney fan, but I want every blogger who’s making a fuss about how Mitt only figuratively “saw” his father march with Martin Luther King to try the following exercise. Google your own archives for “I saw” or “we saw” and scan for instances where, especially if you’re talking about something that happened a long time ago, “saw” is really just being used as a stand-in for the more literally accurate “became aware of” or “knew about”. I’m guessing most of them will find at least a couple. Not because they’re all pathological liars, but because this is, in fact, a totally normal way for English-speakers to talk. If I tell you that I was disheartened to see the Dems fold on wiretapping this year, it’s not some kind of clever gotcha to question when I sat in on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, or even whether I was tuned into C-SPAN when Reid brought up their bill. It might be helpful if we spent less time obsessing over the literal accuracy of statements whose purpose, in context, is obviously to make a true general point (“I was inspired by my father’s actions on behalf of civil rights”) and more time attacking phrases crafted with lawyerly expertise to be technically-accurate but totally misleading.
Picking Mitt’s Nits
December 21st, 2007 · 5 Comments
Tags: Language and Literature