Monday, August 09, 2010

Cancer cured! Mideast at peace!

The sun stands still, the waters part, the trumpets and hautboys sound: We have a new leader in the race for Stupidest Front Page of the Third Millennium!

The reefers more or less speak for themselves (yes, the judges would still like to meet a mild-mannered flesh-eating bacterium). And the centerpiece -- if you guessed "cartoons with mug shots and talk balloons," step forward! But it's the lede story* that pushes this one over the top:

Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Snyder likes to think of himself as someone who will give Michigan the kind of leadership "where all Michiganders can win together."

In his 10-minute victory speech Tuesday, Snyder referred to "Michiganders" coming together or working together or winning together four times.

In fact,** he uses Michigander in almost every stump speech, in answers to questions, on his Web site.

Getting the idea where this is going?

But many fellow citizens think they're Michiganians. (Press, comma, stop the!)

Those include Gov. Jennifer Granholm and at least
(suggesting the depth of reporting here) her two immediate predecessors: John Engler and Jim Blanchard.

From what we
(is this you and your tapeworm, you and Queen Elizabeth or who?) can tell, the only advantage to Michiganian is that it allows us to show off our Midwestern, nasal twang.

Go ahead, say it out loud.

The Free Press official
(that's the only kind there is) stylebook says: "Michigander -- not Michiganian." Based on what we read in the other Detroit newspaper, theirs says the opposite.

The Free Press rule was a result of decades of research, a tiny fraction of which was scientific, leading us to believe Michigander is more popular.

It also has the better pedigree, having been attributed to Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War (speaking derisively about a former Michigan governor).

Well, no. Lincoln's comment ("I mean the military tail you Democrats are now engaged in dove~tailing on to the great Michigander ") is from 1848, according to the OED, by which time "Michiganian" had already chalked up three cites -- the earliest in 1813.

Virg Bernero, the Democrat running for governor, hasn't used either term noticeably.

We asked his preference.

"Michigander" was the one-word response from his spokesman.

So, kumbaya, brothers and sisters: Whoever wins, we'll soon all be Michiganders.

From the most charitable perspective possible, this is a couple of grafs in a Sunday roundup (say, the mindless "Poli-bites" feature that appears in the Sunday Freep). It has all the news value of the occasional Missouri-Missouruh spat, or the periodic betting of state foodstuffs against each other as the playoffs draw near. But the top right-hand side of the front page -- you know, wars? Rumors of wars? Plague, famine, pestilence, year-on-year auto sales? That stuff we used to call "news"? Wasn't there any of it across the planet on Sunday?

* Hint: if you have to run the hed in two different colors to get attention, you do not have a news lede.
** There's a lot of "in fact" going around today. This is from the centerpiece:Kutcher, in fact, has the second-most followers of anyone on Twitter with nearly 5.5 million.


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