Only an editorial page writes like that! | Bleader

Only an editorial page writes like that!

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From "A Call for Fairness," lead editorial in the Tuesday New York Times:

That's the kind of language Mr. Obama needs for the campaign trail next year, to draw a strong comparison with Republicans who may well start to be seen as fighting for the interests of a small moneyed elite.

Republicans who may well start to be seen as fighting for the interests of a small moneyed elite.

How exquisitely modulated! The Times might have simply said this:

Republicans fighting for the interests of a small moneyed elite.

But even if it thinks it, the Times editorial page doesn’t want to come right out and say anything so pugnacious. It could have dialed down and said this:

Republicans seen as fighting for the interests of a small moneyed elite.

After all, Republicans are seen that way now. Not by everybody. Maybe not by as many people as see them fighting for bedrock American principles. But it's not a process that has yet to start. The Times knows this.

Still, it’s a little accusatory, isn’t it? So let's dial back a little further to —

Republicans who might be seen as fighting for the interests…

But now the Times sounds unsure about something. That won’t do! So we dial back a third time to —

Republicans who might start to be seen as fighting for the interests…

This uncertainty is acceptable. Not even the Times can be sure about the future.

But the problem now is that all the dialing back has left us with a passage limp as a noodle in a strainer. The Times needs to wag a finger or something, or else why bother to mention the Republicans at all. This brings us to —

Republicans who may well start to be seen as fighting for the interests of a small moneyed elite.

With its gift of perfect pitch, the Times knows there’s an undertone of schoolmarmish severity to may well. As in, “Mend your ways, young man, or you may well not graduate.”

These editorials don’t just write themselves.

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