Monday, April 14, 2008

Bitter Fruit; Bad Pronoun Case

Some Perspective on ‘Bitter’

Published: April 15, 2008

If I were him, I’d try to re-ignite that flame.

The "him" should be "he." "Were" is a linking verb; the predicate nominative that follows it must be in the nominative case.

Mr. Obama needs to get back on that message of unity and hope, appealing to the better angels of the working classes, while at the same time fashioning an economic message more compelling than what we’ve heard to date.

The comma after "classes" is redundant. It splits compound present participial phrases "appealing" and "fashioning" that modify "Obama."

Mr. Obama has stumbled into a diction faux pas by using a subtle and accurate adjective in the wrong crowd. Mr. Herbert suggests that Mr. Obama should have used "angry" instead of "bitter." Obama's word choice was right. "Bitter" connotes the defeat and helplessness these people feel. "Angry" is a euphemism.

"Angry" is a common word that appeals not only to people with shallow understanding of language but also to defeated men beating their chests in protest about being borne down by the trickle-down economics of the Republican years, which these bitter poor whites supported without realizing they were digging their own economic graves. They can't retreat to euphemisms and guns and beating their chests to solve their problems now. Their voting for George Bush twice has borne bitter fruit. They must deal with that.


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