SENTENCE: Tomorrow, with a single stroke of his cruel veto pen, President Bush will dash the hopes of millions of Americans seeking cures through the miracle of stem cell research.
WHERE: Mass email from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
CORRECTION: Tomorrow, with one cruel stroke of his veto pen, President Bush will dash the hopes of millions of Americans seeking cures through the promise of stem cell research.
CRITIQUE: Okay, so this one isn’t about grammar, but about egregiously silly rhetoric.
I’m fine with the idea that an inanimate object can be invested with metaphoric intentionality. Where would the whole fantasy genre be without “cruel sword”? And I will admit that Dubya has used his veto power exclusively for idiotic reasons that smack of callousness. But somehow I have a hard time with “cruel veto pen.” First of all, it’s not like Bush does all his vetoing with the same evil pen. Secondly, while a sword is an essential player in the cruelty it inflicts, the role of the veto pen seems to me somehow smaller — less vorpal, perhaps? — and I think the focus of the cruelty really ought to be on the signer, not his poor, abused Bic.
Next, I’d rather not see the word “miracle” anywhere in the rhetoric of those who think scientific research should go ahead despite the supposed objections of someone’s God. Furthermore, considering that stem cell research hasn’t cured anything yet, “miracle” seems like a strong word. Pelosi’s side is supposed to be against faith-based healing.
Pelosi’s odd sentence is a good reminder that you can make all your grammar line up just fine and still say silly things.