Saturday, August 25, 2012

Forbidden heds (atop good stories)

Do we need a list of permanently banned campaign heds, like unto those lists circulated every December to tamp down Christmas Came Early, 'Tis The Season and their ilk? I'm happy to nominate* "gloves come off," "come out swinging" and all cognates from the world of fisticuffs.

First, "take off gloves" is meaningless. It fails the fundamental test (especially when it's topping 1A in the lede position) of telling me why today is different from yesterday. It can apply with equal fidelity to about half of all campaign coverage, regardless of what's happened before or what is expected to happen in the future. The best that can be said of the boxing metaphor is that it fits into nearly every conceivable count. If you're stuck with a 1/42/4 on a story whose substance is the recitation of threadbare grunts and squeals on a hot August weekday before a small crowd, "Crook/Liar/take off/gloves" is there for you.

In some cases (this is one), it's also flatly wrong. When Candidate A opens by calling Candidate B a commie:

In their first head-to-head meeting of this election season, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel described Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown as “un-American.”

... and Candidate B's response is to try to explain the meaning of the decision in question, it's a tad bit disingenuous to suggest that they "took off the gloves." A more accurate hed would be

Brown in

... which, to the paper's (and the desk's) great credit, is more or less what the story says. For a paper that had long enjoyed a reputation for fealty to any Republican candidate who was in the owners' good graces, this is a delightful bit of objective reporting:

When Mandel was asked by The Dispatch what he would have done differently at the time the federal loans were offered to the auto companies, as well as what health-care alternative he would offer to “Obamacare,” Mandel offered a five-minute response about the free-enterprise system, government regulations and Greece before steering to an environmental regulation he has criticized Brown for supporting.

When he was asked again to answer the initial question, Mandel offered general remarks on regulations, energy production and the U.S. tax code. Twelve minutes after Mandel was asked what he would have done differently during the time of the bailout — and it had been suggested to him that he either did not have or was not offering an alternative — Mandel said: “You can write, ‘Josh’s plan would’ve been, and Josh’s plan continues to be, to reform regulations and create a better economic environment for auto manufacturing and manufacturing in general.’  ”

... Mandel often relied on buzzwords and phrases such as liberal, immoral and out of touch in bashing Brown and his policies, but his “un-American” charge stood out in what was a lengthy, detailed assault on the $80 billion in federal money loaned to General Motors and Chrysler in 2008 and 2009.

Hem. Kaff. You don't say.

One suggestion for our hypercorrecting friends at the Dispatch desk:

The reference Mandel made to Delphi, one surely to be repeated in the candidates’ three televised debates, was to the nonunion employees getting pension cuts of between 30 and 70 percent as part of GM’s bankruptcy restructuring.

"Sure to be repeated," not "surely to be repeated." It's a predicate adjective:

I am happy to be nominated.
* I am happily to be nominated.

And lighten up on the hyphens while you're at it.

* Other nominations welcome.



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

On the other hand, it's sure to be repeated surely, though meaninglessly, no?

11:19 AM, August 25, 2012  
Blogger fev said...

Surely you can't be serious!

12:42 PM, August 25, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emil anonymously said "Don't call me Shirley."

9:13 AM, August 26, 2012  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home