Friday, July 15, 2005

Hugh Hewitt has listened to Paul Begala's rant and thinks that CNS and I were taken in by Begala's ignorance of the rules of pronoun reference. Radioblogger has up a mp3 of Begala's speech to a young Democratic activist group in which he said the following about Republicans and terrorists. (I can't get the mp3 to work, but perhaps you'll have better luck or the wonderful Radioblogger will fix the link. Meanwhile you can go here and watch the whole panel discussion. It starts at about 48:44 and goes for about 3 minutes in the discussion.)
"I was driving past the Pentagon when that plane hit" on Sept. 11, 2001. "I had friends on that plane; this is deadly serious to me," Begala said.

"They want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted -- that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit," Begala said. "That is bulls*** national defense, and we should say that."
Now, grammar mavens, whom do you think "they" refers to in that sentence? Hugh thinks that Begala is just switching back and forth and sometimes "they" refers to the terrorists and sometimes "they" refers to Republicans. I suppose that that is a better analysis than my conclusion that "they" was a consistent pronoun reference to Republicans. After all, I assume that the terrorists aren't interested in tax cuts. However, if you listen to the clip, Republicans are the direct antecedent for several sentences before saying "They want to kill us." And his reference to 9/11 is to Osama bin Laden which would call for a singular pronoun. But that's just the teacher in me getting picky about proper pronoun usage, a much undervalued art.

Perhaps Begala would benefit from a little tutorial on how to avoid errors in pronoun reference. I would be happy to help him out. My students make mistakes with matching the pronoun and the antecedent all the time. However, I've never seen a kid use the same pronoun in contiguous sentences to refer to different people. That would be....just...ignorant, wouldn't it?

Anyways, Hugh is still struck with the hatred that Begala has for Republicans. Begala has clearly gone around the bend caught up in his Bush-hatred. Begala goes on about how the Republicans would have impeached a President Gore if, on 9/11, he'd hidden out in the mountains of Omaha (Omaha! - I guess the Dems really are unfamiliar with the geography of the red states, aren't they?) and left Joe Lieberman to run the country and then had wasted money on tax cuts and the war in Iraq. You have to listen to Begala's entire rant. This is how they talk to each other in their gatherings. They really think that Republicans would rather have tax cuts for the rich rather than protecting Americans at home. I guess they've missed the news about how the tax cuts of 2003 have revitalized the economy and decreased the deficit. The divide is deep, my friends, deep. I don't understand their venom and they don't understand my defense of conservative ideas.

UPDATE: Radioblogger has fixed the link and you can now listen to Paul Begala in full hate rant mode here. See if you can find any reason or true facts in that speech. And listen to the response he gets from the crowd.