Friday, January 18, 2008

[Not Quite] Enough Said

Although the Braves are leaving, I assume I am stuck with the Richmond Times-Dispatch (at least for so long as the publishers can make a buck here). So I’ve been trying real hard to coexist with the TD. Some times it’s not that easy. I think the paper’s editorial policy is a bit Neanderthal, but it’s their nickel. Sometimes I’m a bit astounded by what the TD chooses to give front page attention to, while relegating to the back pages stories I consider to be of monumental importance. And then there are the times when I just sit at my kitchen table baffled.

A week or so ago, the TD used at least half of its editorial to give us all a history of the Church of England. Not that I minded. I learned that if your name was Thomas and you were appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by a king named Henry you would probably not lead a long life. I even went to the website of the Archbishop to learn about the appointment process (I had been surprised by the TD’s statement that the Prime Minister of England appoints the Archbishop. Actually, it’s not that simple. If you’re interested in the detailed appointment process, you might want to look at But, what was the point of this editorial? The TD thought the fact that former Prime Minister Tony Blair might have been a closet Catholic at the time he forwarded the name of Rowan Williams to be archbishop merited the observation “History works in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform.” To which I replied at my breakfast table “?”

Today, under the title “Enough Said,” the TD editorial quoted from a post-Appomattox letter from “retired” Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Commonwealth Governor John Letcher. I’ll quote the letter here so you don’t have to switch channels.

"The duty of [the South's] citizens, then, appears to me too plain to admit doubt. All should unite in honest effort to obliterate the effects of the war and to restore the blessing of peace. They should remain, if possible, in the country, promote harmony and good feeling, qualify themselves to vote, and elect to the state and general legislatures wise and patriotic men who will devote their abilities to the interests of the country and the healing of all dissensions. I have invariably recommended this course since the cessation of hostilities, and have endeavored to practice it myself."

So, says I to myself, why exactly is this old letter being printed? What is it that the TD is trying to say to us under the title “Enough Said?” Is the TD suggesting that there are still citizens of Virginia that have not yet accepted the military decision of 1865? I certainly hope not. Are they saying that we are not promoting “harmony and good feeling?” Or, is it that we are not electing to the Congress and the General Assembly “wise and patriotic men?”

These are just a couple of examples of TD editorials that leave me wondering whether it is me or the editors that have lost the power of reason. If the TD is using its bully pulpit to tell us something, wouldn’t it be better to just let us know the lesson it is trying to teach? Is there some point to what the editorial is saying? Guys, could you help me out here?

But wait, you say. Maven, aren’t you sometimes guilty of the same baffling prose? Reader, you cut me to the quick. I spend hours writing and rewriting to make sure my preaching makes sense. I am proud of the reasonableness of my writing. And, even if there are times when my writing also baffles, I have license to do so. I am a CPM (certified public maven). And that, loyal reader, has made all the difference.

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