Friday, August 21, 2009

Paul Krugman and Editor not up to "Challenge"

This is very unusual. Paul Krugman doesn't just think well, he usually writes well, very well. However his latest op-ed contains a sentence which just doesn't mean what he meant to mean.

"Meanwhile, on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy."

This implies "on torture, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy."

Which implies "on torture, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to change Bush administration policy." Which is false, indeed libelous.

Krugman is trying to save ink. I'm sure he meant something like.

"Meanwhile, on the fraught question of indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to change Bush administration policy. Meanwhile, on the fraught question of torture n, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge Bush administration policy."

My rewrite is twice as long and stylistically unspeakable (I mean that literally no one would say something that ugly let alone write it and send it to the Op-ed editor).

However it does have the advantage of noting that Obama has ordered his subbordinates to cease torturing people -- and made the order clear enough to be effective by ordering them to obey the army field manual even if they are CIA employees or, shudder, contractors. Krugman's single sentence is relatively elegant but is inconsistent with that fact and therefore false.

However, my rewrite so far, while ugly and awkward, is not yet accurate and further rewriting is needed to make it correspond to reality and cease to be false (once I get going on ugly repetitiveness I find it hard to stop or cease).

"To challenge" is a fairly weak verb. Obama challenged Bush on torture before being elected and continues to challenge his subbordinates to cease to torture.

What is true and what Krugman had in mind before he began worrying about his 700 word limit is

""Meanwhile, on the fraught question of indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to change Bush administration policy, and on the fraught question of torture , the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to prosecute Bush administration policy makers and his willingness to abuse the state secrets doctrine in an attempt to prevent civil courts from hearing law suits against them."

Not at all what he wrote.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well done.

Anonymous said...

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/20/amnesty_honduran_forces_using_arrests_beatings

August 20, 2009

Amnesty: Honduran Forces Using Arrests, Beatings to Punish Zelaya Supporters
By Amy Goodman

Amnesty International is accusing Honduran forces of beating and arresting supporters of the ousted President Manuel Zelaya. * Amnesty says the “mass arbitrary arrests and ill treatment of protesters” remains a “serious and growing concern.”

* http://amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/Honduras-photos-and-protestor-testimonies-show-extent-of-police-violence-20090819

Anonymous said...

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/21/headlines#9

August 21, 2009

Thousands March in Honduras for Zelaya’s Return
By Amy Goodman

In Honduras, an estimated 5,000 people marched in the capital Tegucigalpa Thursday in support of the ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Protester Augusto Jimenez said the marches will continue until Zelaya is restored to office.

“We’re protesting in the streets because we’re condemning the brutal coup on the Honduran people. We’re asking for the restitution of our president, who was elected by the majority of the Honduran people. The only way that we will stop this resistance is for President Zelaya to once again return to power in our country.”