The Corner

A Half-Dozen Unimpactful Debate Notes

I wanted to get in a few notes about the debate last night. Not political ones, but extraneous ones, mainly related to language.

1) As far as I know, the only people who say “on line,” instead of “in line,” are New Yorkers. I’m not talking about the Internet. I’m talking about standing in line, as at Starbucks.

“Are you on line?” That’s what New Yorkers would say. Everyone else, to my knowledge, asks, “Are you in line?”

Donald Trump, true to his roots, said “on line.”

2) Interesting, the pronunciation of “visa.” Marco Rubio and others say “veessa.” I and others say “veeza.” Tomayto/tomahto.

3) There’s a grammatical error that’s as common as crabgrass. Marco: “I agree we should have won, and I wish we would have.” About ten years ago, people stopped saying, “I wish we had.”

Trump: “If I would have used even half of that word, it would have been a national scandal.” Americans simply stopped saying, “If I had used even half that word …”

Sad. (As Trump would tweet.) Bad.

4) A friend texted me, “Rubio has used ‘impacted’ twice!” She knows that I dislike “impact” as a verb. This sprang up, what? Ten years ago? Fifteen? In former times, only teeth were “impacted.” Now “your words impacted me negatively.”

Shudder.

And “impactful” is even worse!

Yet this stuff seems here to stay. It’s embedded in the American tongue. Impacted on?

5) You probably know about Donald Trump’s sister, the liberal judge. But do you know her name? Maryanne Barry. Very close to Marion Barry. I once interviewed a Democratic congressman from Arkansas: Marion Berry. He served at the same time Barry was mayor (of D.C.).

Congressman Berry’s life must have been complicated at times.

6) In his closing statement, Ben Carson echoed Hillel: “If not us, who? If not now, when?” Reagan used this line — early in his first term, when he was trying to rein in taxes and spending.

There was a cartoon in The New Yorker (very anti-Reagan, of course — the cartoon and the magazine). I’m going from memory, but I think I’ve got it.

A man was in the bathtub of his utterly ramshackle house or apartment. He was obviously very down in life — battered by the Reagan economy, surely. Scrubbing his back with a brush, he hollered to his wife, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Anyway, don’t get me started on “Reaganomics,” the liberal media, and all that 1980s jazz …

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