Friday, July 12, 2013

Order of the Passive

Order will now be come to by the Loyal Order of the Passive Voice, dedicated to defending the noble passive from those who falsely invoke it to serve their own nefarious ends -- for example, Charles Krauthammer:

The conventional wisdom evolves. Yesterday, Washington was merely broken, gridlocked, dysfunctional. The passive voice spread the blame evenly. Today it’s agreed that Republican obstructionism is the root of all evil — GOP resistance having now escalated to nihilism and indeed sabotage.

BZZZZT. The passive voice did no such thing, because it wasn't used. "Was" is a linking verb, connecting "Washington" to three predicate adjectives -- compare "Krauthammer's cluelessness was evident again" to "Krauthammer was making stuff up again."

As fabrications go, the aggressive passive isn't in the same league as (say) Krauthammer's bogus psychologizing about pronoun use. But it is a reminder that when the third sentence of a column is bullshit, there's usually more to come.



Anonymous Bob L. said...

I think "was making stuff up again" is a past progressive (or continuous), not a passive. "Charles Krauthammer was castigated for misusing the label 'passive'" does the job.

He's even less precise as a pundit, but that's OT.

1:20 PM, July 12, 2013  

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