by Kyle Swenson
Even though it's on Twitter, it still has to make sense.
Now that we're in the sweet spot of the political season, both parties have rolled up their sleeves for the usual rhetorical fisticuffs. A kind of lower life form on this stage of battle is the lobs both sides toss from their perches on Twitter. Unfortunately, edging in on November, the web likely will be cluttered with this kind of abridged political talk, which means we'll probably end up with more head-scratching gaffes like this one.
As you probably know, President Obama is in Cleveland today to give a speech on economic development. The Ohio Republicans are cuing up interference, and that includes tweeting out the not so subtle suggestion that other Ohio Dems up for re-election are keeping POTUS at arms length — or at least that seems to be what they're trying to say here.
Last night, @ohiogop, the official Twitter mouthpiece of the Ohio Republican Party, shot out the above. The link leads to a piece from The Hill about how today Senator Sherrod Brown won't appear with the president. The Democrats say it's a scheduling issue; The Hill suggests it might mean Obama is still anathema in Ohio and Brown is staying back. And hey, considering Obama's tenuous popularity and Brown's strong challenger Josh Mandel, that's a fair point. Our issue is with the tweet itself, which doesn't so much resemble an idea as a 140-character alter on which someone's slaughtered common sense, metaphor, and the basics of the English sentence for the sake of a political jab.
Okay, hide and seek. So Obama and Brown are going to be around the state, looking for one another in the spare bedroom? Under the hedge? No, okay, they're running around the state, or one is running around the state, looking for the other? But the idea flowing under the Hill piece is that Brown is trying to stay away from Obama, not that he's on the hunt. Is Obama looking for Brown? Betty Sutton might join in? She might “tag” along? (First hide and seek, now tag? —in the word business, we call that a mixed metaphor). But if she wanted to stay away from the president, she wouldn't “tag” along, no?
The rhetorical flourish doesn't serve the idea. It doesn't make sense. This sucker is so clunky anyone trying to handle it is going to drop it on their toe, it's that unwieldy. Keep in mind, we're not making a political criticism; like we said, the Republicans might have a good point here. But it's been lost. Why not, “Brown keeps Obama at arms length.” Too direct? How about: “Brown books from POTUS stop?” Or whatever. You decide.
You're probably wondering why it's worth making a big deal about a single 140-character word-burst casually shrugged off into the internet ether. Well, words matter, especially when we're jousting with ideas (Re: Orwell). You've got to hold these guys to a higher standard. Sure, it's a tweet, but if this is the kind of solecism we can except from the campaign season, boo.