By Ray Lesser
At a recent bill signing ceremony, George Bush said, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
President Bush’s severe difficulties with the English language have trickled down to his staff. At a campaign rally in New Mexico for Vice President Dick Cheney, Republicans were requiring anyone who wanted to attend to sign the following loyalty oath: “I, (full name) do herby endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States.” It adds that, “In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush.”
Meanwhile, at the Democratic National Convention, all speeches were carefully scripted and edited for content (except for Al Sharpton’s; he apparently has difficulty generating spontaneous anger off of a teleprompter). The Democrats were afraid that if their speakers were permitted to say what they really believed, the convention would turn into an orgy of bashing the Bush administration for treasonous lies, plunder, torture, rape, baby killing, and appallingly bad grammar. By the end, John Kerry might feel inspired to take up arms and lead his Band of Brothers in storming the White House to force Bush into taking a No Child Left Behind class in remedial English.
Over the past four years, thousands of editors, along with a million other Americans, have lost their jobs. This differs considerably from the Clinton era, when there was a huge boom in jobs for editors of such things as business plans, PowerPoint presentations, and prospectuses for successful IPO offerings like Webvan, Boo.com, Toysmart, and Global Crossing. It’s time to get these unemployed editors out of local coffee shops, where their resumes and unpublished poetry are sprawled over every table, and back into the productive mainstream of American life.
Politicians aren’t the only ones who need their speeches polished, clarified, and watered down so as not to offend undecided voters: Everybody needs an editor. Think about how much time, money, and embarrassment a good editor could save you personally. On a first date, instead of saying, “You remind me of my mother. But I mean that in a good way … ” your editor would quickly hand you this revision: “You would make a fantastic mother someday, should you find a man who could truly appreciate your warm and caring nature.”
Or at work, instead of announcing, “I’d like whichever one of you nimrods who screwed up this message to know that you just cost us a million dollar contract!” your editor would help you clarify, “Of course, in the long run this will make us a better company by pointing to a weakness that can be easily corrected, allowing us to obtain even more valuable contracts in the future!”
Once you get used to working with your personal editor, you won’t just blurt out the first thing that pops into your mind; you’ll consult your editor before giving a thoughtful response. This will make for more meaningful dialog, and fewer brawls in the parking lot of Joe’s Tavern.
These editors can help in other ways. Because they’re used to simplifying cluttered language, they might also be useful in simplifying your cluttered life. Let them go through your phonebook and edit out meaningless and redundant friends. Take them with you to family gatherings where they can prune away whole branches of your overgrown family tree. With fewer superfluous contacts, you’ll find that keeping up with everyone in your life will be a cinch.
Editors can also help you select the appropriate audience. Do you really want to spend your morning making mindless small talk with your next-door neighbor about crabgrass and slugs? When in doubt, edit them out and move on to more important and interesting subject matter with that hottie who just moved in across the street.
It has been said that those who can’t do, write, and those that can’t write, edit. (And those who can’t edit, publish.) Remember, editors need you as much as you need them. You possess the creative spark that makes this country the greatest innovator in the world. It is people like you who came up with concepts like the Stars and Stripes, Star Wars, and Starbucks. But it took editors, those great, unknown champions of consistency and coherence, to create logic out of fuzzy logic. Hungry editors turned “Dick and Maurice McDonald’s Barbecue Airdrome” into “McDonald’s.” Passionate editors turned the breadth and scope of American music into “Top 40.”
The next time you go to the coffee shop, consider taking an editor home with you. You have no idea what it’s like to have someone constantly correct and revise everything you say and do, unless of course you’re already married.