Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Radical Present Tense

by Smitty

Morgan Freeberg brings one of those back-burner thoughts to the front of the stove:
You might say "In times like these, we have to pull together and nobody can make a profit providing a service so essential to the rest of us." You would not say "Because it’s Tuesday and my butt itches, we have to pull together and nobody can make a profit providing this service." With the latter, even a flaccid mind would immediately recognize — duh, hey wait a minute...if the service is so essential, how do we make sure it continues to be provided if nobody can make a profit providing it? But "In times like these" goes over like Free Ice Cream night in Hell. Why yes! That makes perfect sense!

But it isn't confined to socialism. All stupid ideas benefit from the "Times Like These" cliche. It's like covering a turd in a chocolate-crusty coating.
When creating various advertising and propaganda, there seems to be a drive to narrow the focus of thought in the audience. All is emotional, all is now. Fear and the unknown loom.

"In times like these" seems both to allude to prior, similar times, and to retire them from consideration. You know, "these times". You wouldn't want to look dumb in public by asking "To what specific time to you refer?" of the speaker. That would be rude. Everyone else is shaking their heads knowingly.

"In times like these" implies knowledge of these times, and sufficient analysis to know what must be done. It builds trust. Whatever the speaker is saying must be done is probably a good idea. We really don't need to fret the future. We can trust the person, right?

Let's look at an example from BHO, emphasis mine:
Now, like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 -- more than at any point in human history -- the interests of nations and peoples are shared. The religious convictions that we hold in our hearts can forge new bonds among people, or they can tear us apart. The technology we harness can light the path to peace, or forever darken it. The energy we use can sustain our planet, or destroy it. What happens to the hope of a single child -- anywhere -- can enrich our world, or impoverish it.
How on earth, one wonders, was this conclusion reached? "Any point", we are told. Clearly we are in the presence of omniscience.

How about a more stylized approach to the BHO passage?


  1. Obama's speeches are not only getting tiresome, but he's managed to actually stuff each one with so many cliches and banalities that they don't even qualify as interesting examples of rhetoric anymore. (The only upside for him is the average voter is such a dunderhead that all they hear is its grand eloquence and none any of the raw, unfettered, triteness that undergrids and overlays every bloody syllable.)

  2. To Hell with Bambam and his inane attempts at rhetorical Awesome. Let's look at this example instead: If Robert Stacey McCain was not paid to write, would he still write - and, more importantly, would what he wrote still be correct?

  3. "Nobody told me there'd be days like these,
    "Nobody told me there'd be days like these,
    "Nobody told me there'd be days like these,
    "Strange days, indeed...
    "Most peculiar, mama!"


  4. I agree; in Times Like These, I think Congress and the President should sacrifice their salaries even though they are providing ESSENTIAL SERVICES (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - I don't which of those two words is the BIGGER joke.) Hey, most of them are millionaires anyway so they don't need the money (from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.)