Saturday, November 17, 2012


Monrovia, California

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Many of us are decompressing from the long onslaught of political mumbo-jumbo of the past year or so.  It was last fall that the Republicans began their seemingly interminable series of debates that left Mitt Romney (the initial front runner of the bunch and the only one who could possibly have been taken seriously by more than a handful of kooks) as the candidate for the nation’s highest office.  It has always been my contention that the bulk of the “drama” of the long campaign was orchestrated and stage-managed by the media.  Who, back in late 2011, looking at the other links in the chain of fools who contended for the GOP nod—Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and sleazy old Herman Cain—would have bet so much as a nickel on any of them except for Mitt Romney?  He was the perfect guy to represent his party.  Well, almost perfect: if he’d been an Episcopalian instead of a Mormon that might have bought him an extra vote or two, but all things considered his religion (and Obama’s lack of religion) didn’t play much of a role in the outcome.  That, I suppose, is a good thing.  Of course both of them intoned earnestly and ad nauseam what has become our Official National Prayer—“God Bless the United States of America.”  Romney a little less so, because he knew he might draw the harsh light of the press onto himself if he mentioned God too often, due to his outrĂ© religious affiliation.  Obama had no such cross to bear, and therefore his profligate use of the Patriotic Benediction was less excusable.

Well, we won’t have Romney to kick around any more, at least not for a few years.  Thank the God Of Our Fathers Who In His Righteous Might Has Made This The Greatest Country In The History Of The Universe for that small favor.  Still, I have one last bone to pick with the Mittmeister, and it has nothing to do with his politics or his religion.  It has to do with his inattention to one of the niceties of the English language.  Evidently they didn’t teach him everything he needed to know at Cranbrook School, or at Stanford, Brigham Young, Harvard, or the Wall Street School of Hard Knocks, about how to navigate the sometimes choppy seas of the rules of usage of our mother tongue.

What I’m referring to with all this circumlocution is a phenomenon I observed during all three of Mitt’s debates with the Once and Future Chief Executive and saw again two or three times in quotes from his postmortem address of a day or two ago, namely, that he consistently says “in regards to” when he should say “in regard to.”  The word “regards” can be used correctly in at least a couple of ways.  One is as the third person singular of the verb “to regard,” meaning to look at something or someone in a certain way.  For example, “Mitt Romney regards 47% of the American people with contempt.”  The other is as a noun that conveys attention or greetings or good feelings to someone or something.  “Give my regards to Broadway,” for instance.  “Regards” is sometimes used alone or together with other words as a valediction in a letter, the way “sincerely yours” is used, e.g., “With warmest regards, Mr. Koch, I remain your humble and obedient servant Mitt Romney.”  One way “regards” must never be used is in place of “regard” in the phrases “in regard to” or “with regard to,” meaning “concerning” or “on the subject of.”  But Mitt uses the word that way consistently and often.  No one is perfect when it comes to the use of the English language but I'm of the school that says, in the words of  the Lord according to St. Luke, "Every one to whom much is given, of him shall much be required."

Perhaps as we go about our business over the next few years we should congratulate ourselves on having chosen the right man for the presidency for an additional reason, one that has nothing to do with the fact that Romney would have represented the most blatant interests of the most wealthy and acquisitive elements of our society and would have led us back down the road to financial ruin, not to mention that he would have ignored the basic needs of the least enfranchised and most deserving of care among us.  We have also rejected a man who uses the English language less correctly than his opponent does.  Oh sure, Obama likes to get a little funky sometimes when he’s pretending to be an authentic black guy, but he does that to humor those descendants of African slaves to whom he is not really related except by marriage and fatherhood, and to show us all what a regular Joe he is.  It's part of his schtick.   However, and more importantly, to my knowledge he has never inadvertently engaged in a glaring error of English grammar or usage.

In the boardrooms and back rooms and hotel ballrooms of the nation, Mitt Romney may continue to say “with regards to” to his sore loser constituents to his heart’s content.  But he won’t ever say it from the presidential podium.  It's a small boon, but sure to be pleasing to schoolmarms and lexicographers everywhere, not to mention my brother the former English professor.  And our mother and father, who would have taken no small satisfaction in Obama's win, for more than just that reason.


Billie Bob said...

God knows I hain't no expert at grammer. But irregardless, I can take comfort in the fact that I'se not the only one. Microsoft Word does not target "with regards to..." as a grammer error.

(It does,however, correct you for the use of the non-word "irregardless".)

Billie Bob said...

...and then, upon re-reading, I note I spelled "grammar" wrong! Hopeless.

Peter Teeuwissen said...

Hey, Double B, how's it going? If you'd kept mum on "grammer" I would have assumed it was part of the riff. I have the luxury of being able to edit my posts after the fact, and always find mistakes, then correct them and pretend they never happened. Still don't catch it all. By the way, Google "is 'in regards to' correct?" and you'll get plenty of answers on that one

Billie Bob said...

Yeah, I thought about being able to claim it was intended, but I'm too friggin' honest for my own good.

We are well here in the Northland (PA). We’re hunkering down for our first winter in four years (you can’t count NC as a place that has winter).