Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Power of Words


What power words have. Say the right word or group of words and you can inspire greatness, courage, love, passion, and all sorts of responses. Say the right word at the wrong time and you spend hours, weeks, days or whatever trying to clean it up. This past week two of our most recognized politicians, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Barack Obaba (D-Illinois) got in trouble with one saying simple word: Wasted.
Senators and Presidential Candidates both, you would think that someone who makes their living with words would be more circumspect. But, no, not them, they threw the word out there and then spent the rest of the weekly news cycle apologizing for it.
But why? What sin did they commit by saying the word "wasted"? Well, they tied the word wasted to the lives lost by US soldiers in Iraq. For that, the Senators got taken to the woodshed by the talking heads that represent each side of the aisle in our Presidential sweepstakes. The Democratic National Committee wasted no time in demanding that Senator McCain apologize for both saying the sacrifices of the troops were wasted and that the war must be continued and won.
Senator Obama said that he was sorry for stating that the lives of US Soldiers that were killed in Iraq were "wasted".
OK, why is it that someone must apologize for speaking the truth? Both McCain and Obama are intelligent and experienced politicians. They both seem compassionate and as such wouldn't use a word like this knowing it might upset families who lost their friends or relatives in combat without attempting to make a serious point.
These soldiers lives have been wasted. The Iraqis killed as a result of our invasion, occupation and the subsequent secterian violence have been wasted. Someone, anyone, if you can, prove otherwise. Please.
My ancient dictionary from college defines "wasted" as: "consumption, spending, or employed uselessly or without achieving adequate return. "
The answer seems pretty plain to me. The 3,000 plus Americans, coalition forces, and countless Iraqi lives lost in this war have achieved no adequate return. Is having Saddam Hussein dead worth these lives? Is having a notion of freedom instead of the reality of freedom worth these lives? Do the people in Iraq feel free? Do they feel like their lives are better for what has happened in the last 4 years? Do the 2 million refugees who have left the country believe that their lives have been improved?
It goes without saying that anyone who willingly lays down their life for a cause such as freeing someone from oppression is acting with honor, courage and selflessness. I think it also must be said that any President or leader of a nation who knowingly sends these people to their deaths understanding the probability that the mission will fail is acting shamefully.
Back to the word. Wasted. Two syllables, two vowels and when used in other context, suggests being stoned, drunk or basically "out of it". However, used in the manner the Senators did, it suggests that this country willingly allowed our brothers and sisters to die needlessly. That was their sin. Regardless of whether you are a democrat or a republican, regardless of whether you believe in this war or don't, to hang an accusation on our leadership and by extension ourselves (after all we voted for these pricks), is unacceptable. These guys must and let Rush, Al, Bill, Keith, and all the rest of the babbling heads castigate the for misspeaking as their penance. The only saving grace here is that we will actually have the news heads talking about something other than burying Anna Nicole Smith or Britney Spears going wacko...
Wasted. What a word.
By the way, these lives have been wasted and if you, me, and anyone else doesn't realize this by now, you can use the word "Wasted" in the context of a Cheech and Chong movie, because if you think otherwise, then you have been smoking a serious fatty.
Tell me what you think.
Dennis

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