I just got done watching Bill Bennett sounding off about Condit and character on the Wolf Blitzer show. Bennett, of course, has made a career of public moralizing and jawboning about the decline of the culture since getting off the public payroll a decade or so back. But my beef with Bennett is his own indirect responsibility for the decline of contemporary spoken English.
I’ve always chuckled as I watched interviewers try to come up with adjectives or labels to describe just what Bennett does or what sort of fellow he is (morality czar? character expert? values meister?).
But didn’t we used to have a whole crop of words and phrases to describe this sort of character? You know, like stuffed shirt, bluenose, comstock, blowhard. They’re not just punchy and euphonious (to my ears at least); they’re also examples of those Anglo-Saxon-derived words to which Strunk & White rightly tell us we should always gravitate.
Where’s H.L. Mencken when you need ’em?!?!