“The President wants to pretend spending isn’t the problem. That’s why we don’t have an agreement.” John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, made this statement to the press following another round of budget negotiations as they both try to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” But snark isn’t going to help, Mr. Boehner.
Urban Dictionary defines snark as a combination of snide and remark. Some might label it sarcasm but, to me, snark is more subtle and divisive than that. I love good sarcasm as much as the next gal but snark gets under my skin. And boy was I itching during the race for the presidency this year. Both candidates and representatives of their campaigns opted for snark in most every venue – print, audio, video, debate, advertisement.
Let’s look at Mr. Boehner’s statement above … “the President wants to pretend spending isn’t the problem.” How differently that phrase would read and feel if Mr. Boehner simply said, “The President believes that spending isn’t the problem.” His actual quote leads me to several disturbing questions that are not answered. The President isn’t pretending but he wants to? If the President was really pretending, doesn’t that mean he is disingenuous in his negotiations? Is the President pretending because he doesn’t have a position or he doesn’t know what he thinks? Is there no agreement because the President is playing, acting, making things up? That is what the word pretend leads me to believe.
I am a stickler about words. Just ask the people that work with me. They will tell you that I am leading a one woman campaign to stamp out the word “learnings.” Even as I type it here, the little red squiggly line that my spell check uses to designate a misspelling has appeared on the screen. “Learnings,” I contend, is not a word. “Lessons” is a word that describes what one learns. Not “learnings.” Trust me when I tell you I could debate this until your eyes cross and you walk away. It’s happened. And let’s not even talk about “impactful learnings.”
I believe John Beohner is a smart man. I believe that his intentions are honorable. I believe the same of President Obama. I don’t know who is right and who is wrong in the fiscal cliff debate. I am hopeful that neither are pretending or even wanting to pretend. And I am certain that, if they are, resolution will remain elusive.
As with any debate or disagreement, the truth about it lies in between the opposing stories being told. That’s what compromise is – finding what we both find true about what you believe and we both find true about what I believe and building a solution on those shared truths.
Snark won’t get you to resolution. That’s one of my learnings.