Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Real Reason George Will Annoys Me

The social and political stripes so boldly emblazoned onto my persona are not something I have much success at hiding, so it should come as no surprise that it's something of a chore to commit to regularly reading conservative columnist George F. Will. As with most sources I might not politically identify with, I at least try to learn from him what I can.

So abrasive to my sensibilities do I find Mr. Will's most commonly held views, I often do not get past the initial sense of revulsion I experience when I first set eyes upon his photo atop each of his columns in Newsweek magazine. Given that I usually read periodicals from back to front, his back-page column in Newsweek always gets my reading of that publication off to a rocky start.

On those occasions when I'm able to put aside Mr. Will's political orientation, I'm usually glad I did. Besides having a soft spot for him because he did his undergraduate work at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, the city I grew up in, I find him to be a virtual font of information as an observer of the political process. And when the situation calls for it, he will roundly criticize those of his own conservative ilk. He's also big on baseball. (His name has even been tossed around casually as a possible future Commissioner of Baseball.)

Those of you who read George Will regularly also know something else about his columns. They are usually spiced with uncommon words. It's one thing to be erudite or scholarly with one's vocabulary; it's quite another to be just plain annoying. If I don't have a dictionary readily at hand when I read Mr. Will, chances are a few things are going to go right over my head. Whether referring to Bill Clinton's preternatural neediness or Mike Huckabee's charlatanry, I find I need at the ready to make sure he doesn't lose me altogether.

I figure there are two ways to look at this phenomenon. Either my vocabulary is sorely in need of a booster shot, or Mr. Will is on the verge of being unnecessarily sesquipedalian. (See how it feels?)

So what's the real reason George Will gets under my skin? Is it simply the fact that no matter what the subject I already know that what I'll be getting is an unrelenting, conservative spin on the topic of the day, or is it the way he makes my vocabulary seem so jejune? Truthfully, it's a toss-up. But if I had to choose which one annoys me more, I'd have to say the vocabulary thing. I can tolerate someone's political analysis being predictably conservative, but looking down their nose at me and my vapid vocabulary is more than I can bear. It's so pestiferous.

Take that, George.


  1. Bill. I did not think anyone out there could get under your epidermis.

    When I first started reading your blog, I thought for sure, I would be frightened off by your use of complex words. I too need my online Merriam open and ready to go when I read your blog. But I always saw it as a way to exapnd my vocabulary, even if I never used the words I was reading.

    But, in your defense, we are like-minded and so when I read your blog, I feel I am at home, so my feathers are not ruffled. I understand why you read this man. But in doing so, you are stting yourself up to be exasperated when you read his column. So you have to ask yourself this. Why do I keep torturing myself and is it worth it? Seems to me thee aggrivation does not outweigh the benefits gained by reading this man.

    Just my $.02 *wink wink*

  2. You're right, Red. I do find myself weighing the aggravation against the benefits when it comes to reading George Will, and sometimes it's a close call. But I'm convinved there's value in exposing one's self to an opposing persepective on things. It seems to broaden my horizons a little.

    As for his challenging words, well, I'll just be sure to have my web surfer set to before I start his columns. It's a small price to pay for a little spice. And besides, every once in a while I learn about a word and its use that actually comes in handy for my own purposes.

    But if you really want to see a few doozies, be sure and check him out.