Monday, September 21, 2009

Throwing the Book at Obama

Unlike most of my erstwhile colleagues in commercial newstalk radio, I don't pretend to understand much if any of the nuts and bolts of the current healthcare debate.

But I do understand the English language. And that's why I was so gratified to see President Obama's appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulis yesterday. Mind you, not because that element of the President's weekend media blitz necessarily made any of the complex issue's details more clear, but rather because of Stephanopolis's prop-assisted manner of interviewing him. When challenging him on whether a "mandate" qualifies as a "tax"—which it clearly does—the host trotted out Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary to cite the definition of the word tax.

Regular listeners to my KIRO broadcasts know that book is the closest thing to a Bible this agnostic ever cites. Because of all the various other Webster's dictionaries out there—there's an abundance because the Merriam-Webster company decades ago lost exclusive rights to its founder Noah Webster's name—Merriam-Webster's is the gold-standard of the lexicographer's art.

Many nights on KIRO I explained the half-dozen or so reasons why their dictionary is so superior to all others, but the most compelling is that their dictionaries feature the finest definitional writing in the entire cluttered field. Merriam-Webster's consistently offers more tightly-written definitions than any of their estimable competitors.

Thus when Stephanopoulis cited "a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes", the President was left with absolutely no wiggle room to deny that any governmentally-mandated fee indeed constitutes a tax. But he did anyway.

BRYAN STYBLE/Seattle

3 comments:

LoriElsa said...

This red print is a little bit blinding.
I had to highlight the print to read it.

Anonymous said...

Amiable brief and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you seeking your information.

Not Waving But Drowning said...

I am curious as to what you are up to now and whether you are blogging under another name? I miss the radio program and detest the sports crap.