Deborah Howell Tells Us the Washington Post Should Fire Herself
Waging a Living

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Fools? (Your President Speaks! Edition)

Bad prose style from George W. Bush

First Draft - Your President Speaks! : Ostensibly to talk up the economy, but he was really all over the map.

So the death tax was put on its way to extinction. I said, put on its way to distinction. The problem is the way the law was written. It's coming back to life in 2011, which is going to make some interesting estate issues, particularly in 2010.

First. "Distinction" and "extinction" are two distinct words. The difference between them has not become extinct.

Second, his unnecessary and inappropriate use of the passive voice makes George W. Bush's prose weak and cowardly. Consider the following two sentences: "The problem is the way the law was written." "The problem is the way I and the Republican Congressional leaders wrote the law back in 2001." See how much stronger, more effective, and more confident the second sentence is? The first sentence could only be uttered by somebody whom California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would call a "girlie man": someone who can only say weak words; can only drink weak tea; is afraid to take responsibility for his actions. If George W. Bush were George Washington, he would say: "Father, the problem is that the cherry tree was chopped down."