Double NegativeJun 7th, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
Joe Boyles – Guest Columnist
I love the English language. I enjoy crafting words into sentences in the traditional form – subject, verb, and object with prepositional phrases thrown in to make the sentence even more descriptive. It is wonderful to compile sentences into a coherent paragraph, and then a set of paragraphs which carry a theme to a logical conclusion. My love for English is one of the reasons I write this column each week.
I do my very best to follow the rules of our language, so you can imagine my chagrin when a congressman last week said, “I can’t say with certitude that picture isn’t me.” My 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Banks would have roasted me for uttering a double negative – in this case, “can’t and isn’t.” She would have sternly said that two negatives cancel themselves so that in essence, you are saying “I can say with certitude that picture is me.” Mrs. Banks would have given me an F for such a transgression.
The congressman in question is Anthony Weiner from some place in New York City. He’s supposed to be really smart even though he said (and did) something really dumb.
The picture in question is of a man’s mid-section clothed in underwear. Whoever sent this picture of whomever (after more than a week of tortured explanations, there are still a lot of things unclear), the subject was – how can I put this delicately – inspired and the recipient of the Facebook photo was a young coed at Washington State University about half the age of weirdo Weiner.
This subject is only tangentially related to national security because Weiner is an influential congressman who claims that he was one of the principal architects of the contentious health care bill, the so-called Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 aka Obamacare.
I really couldn’t resist writing about this indiscretion. Opportunities like this are rare.
There are a lot of things I can say about this. First of all, let’s start with a disclaimer: I can say with absolute certitude that photo is not me. Whew – now I feel better. Second, although I’m a great believer in heritage and family, if my name was “Weiner,” I’d give very serious consideration to changing it.
Where I grew up, boys with a name like Weiner would get beat up. Instead, I’d change my name to something like Lance Armstrong. Guys with names like that don’t get beat up. If my name was Dwayne Johnson, which isn’t too bad, I might change it to The Rock. Guys named The Rock never get beat up, especially if they look like The Rock.
Here’s another disclaimer: I don’t have a Facebook account … and I don’t Tweet, whatever that is. When someone under the age of thirty asks me “how many friends I have,” I give them a blank look. I don’t even text which shows you what a techno-dinosaur I am. I’m not saying I’ll never do those things, but if facing and texting and tweeting get you into trouble like old Weiner, I don’t want any part of it. I get in plenty of trouble without going out of my way to look for new opportunities.
Is it easier to write about Anthony Weiner’s difficulty because he’s a liberal nerd? Sure it is, but I’d like to think that I’m non-partisan when it comes to political hijinks. To me there’s a certain amount of justice seeing these high-flying politicians brought low by their own silly actions and ridiculous explanations. I’m all for self-inflicted wounds.
For example, let me see if I can come up with a plausible way to explain why someone is caught playing footsy between stalls in the men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis Airport – just killing time between flights?????? If you buy that, I have some waterfront property about 20 miles east of Miami you might like.
You know, sometimes a word can be both a noun and verb in our borrowed language. Take the word “weasel.” Not only does Weiner look like a weasel (noun), but he’s trying to weasel (verb) his way out of a mess of his own creation. I chuckle just thinking about his tortured explanations. He’s changing his story faster than Lady Gaga changes outfits.
In the wake of the Watergate nearly forty years ago, when the suffix “gate” is added to your name, you’re in a heap of trouble. Welcome to Weinergate. Just as in the real Watergate Scandal, the original sin is damaging but recoverable. But, the cover-up quickly spins out of control. Politicians frequently lie, but we don’t want to catch them in a bald-face lie intended to save their sorry butt. Just ask John Edwards.
You know, I’m being too hard on Tony W (that sounds better than Anthony Weiner, doesn’t it). He’s disadvantaged. If he had Mrs. Banks in the 8th grade like I did, she would have set him straight – in more ways than one.