Bad Writing

Monday, May 19th, 2008

You know you’re in trouble when a politician begins an essay this way:

Skyrocketing energy prices have left most Americans with pinched wallets and anxiety about how to make ends meet. To address this problem, Democrats and Republicans must work together to find real solutions to our energy problem.

The last part is one of those sentences yanked out of a hat of prefabricated clauses. The first part diminishes the human costs to “pinched wallets” and “anxiety.”

The politician then goes to potential solutions:

There are many steps that the government can and should take now to help Americans stretch their hard-earned dollars during this difficult time. I will support measures to investigate the record profits of oil companies, introduce added competition to the oil market, protect consumers from price-gouging, increase transparency in energy trading markets, support a temporary gas tax holiday and delay deposits to the strategic petroleum reserve.

The trick here is to say that one “will support” in a sneaky future tense when the writer could propose something tangible, such as supporting a bill that would put the country into “infrastructure rebuilding” and converting all government buildings to solar power, which would negate the need to “investigate” anything other than a real solution.

Of course, you know you’re in trouble when a blog post begins “You know you’re in trouble when . . . “


4 responses to “Bad Writing”

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
    Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
    Nothing you can say but you can learn how
    to play the game. It’s easy.

    Free coffee if you know the author ;-P

  2. Steve says:

    I was never a big lennon fan.

    Now, how about that coffee?

  3. Josh says:

    “I was never a big lennon fan.”

    Now, there’s an eye-opener.

  4. Bryan says:

    Sounds like the rhetoric of a young communication director, who is only relying on the quotations of the politician from past events and not introducing current policy or media.