Seriously, Dude

Oftentimes the biggest problems are best exemplified by the smallest details. Consider the interview that aired on the Fox News network last week, in which former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor was asked if he had changed the White House’s public account of the deadly terrorism that occurred at the American consulate in Benghazi to describe it as a “demonstration” rather than “attack.” Clearly exasperated by the question, Vietor responded “Dude, that was, like, two years ago.
The answer is appalling for a variety of reasons. There’s the shocking insouciance about the deaths of an ambassador and four other Americans who had been betrayed by the government they served, for one thing, and so redolent of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s infamous “What difference, at this point, does it make?” There’s the same apparent sense of ruling=class entitlement, as well, with its arrogant conviction that such pesky questions should not be asked and that no one currently in power should ever be held to account. The unmistakable dishonest is troubling, too, as wo years is not so long that an ordinary person would have forgotten about lying to the American public on a matter of grave national importance. More troubling yet, however, at least to our sensitive years, is Vietor’s use of “dude” and “like.”
For all the dire warnings of imminent civilizational collapse that appear daily in the news, you’ll find nothing quite so alarming as the fact that someone once entrusted with a position on the National Security Council expresses himself in the manner of the Jeff Spicoli character in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” The interview also revealed that Vietor’s role on the National Security Council was high enough that he was in the White House situation room as the events in Benghazi unfolded, and it is hard to imagine him formulating any effective response to the situation that that included the word “dude” or was punctuated at any point by “like.” Serious people equal to such serious situations do not use such language, and it is not wonder that having people who speak that way in positions of responsibility had such deadly results.
Worse yet, the shoddy education that is apparent in Veitor’s spoken words is not all uncommon. Perhaps we should be grateful that at least Vietor didn’t unload the “f=bomb” that is now ubiquitous in conversations, but the Vice President of the United States used that coarse word to mark the occasion of Obamacare being passed into law. The President of the United States has described a respected member of the opposition party’s budget proposal as a “stink burger,” and his Senior Advisor who still assures us of his historic genius “tweets” in 24 or characters or less that the convoluted Obamacare web site is “easy-peasy.” Whatever great ideas these people have, they are somehow incapable of expressing them in plain English.
The degradation of the English language is a serious problem, but the bigger problem is that the ideas being so crudely expressed are crude.

— Bud Norman


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