Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Passive Political Voice

Most writers avoid the passive voice. It makes our work sound weak and wishy-washy.

So it’s hard to understand why political speechwriters insist on using the passive voice for their clients’ speeches. It’s as if they want their clients to sound like impotent wimps. Or maybe their real goal is to relieve their clients of any responsibility for their actions.

We all know who made the reckless decision to invade Iraq, but all we have ever heard from George Bush is that decisions were made.

The Department of Homeland Security made catastrophic mistakes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but all we ever heard was that mistakes were made.

The CIA and the military committed heinous war crimes in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but all we ever hear is that crimes were committed.

Our paid para-military goons in Iraq raped and shot civilians, stole supplies and sold them to anyone who had the money, but all we hear is that illegal activities took place.

Investment bankers ripped off the citizens of the United States for billions of dollars, but all we ever hear is that fraud was committed.

It’s time we insist on the active voice from our government.

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