I know from experience that, for a writer of news, the jaws of a cliche can be a difficult thing to escape.
You’re in a hurry, you need an image people can relate to, you need to somehow make the political convention you’re writing about seem exciting, as opposed to just a multi-day display of balloons and bluster, pomp and propaganda.
The cliche, often, is the first term that pops into your head, and once it latches on — legend has it they exert a force beyond any other words, something like a million pounds per square inch — you just can’t shake them off.
So, unless you find something you can describe as a “game-changer” — it having quickly risen up the cliche ladder — you pepper your reports with terms like “attack dog.”
This being convention season, “attack dogs” are everywhere.
Just in the first few days of this week — as the Democratic National Convention got underway in Charlotte – Vice President Joe Biden, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to name a few, have been described in the news media as attack dogs.
Rest assured, the pack will grow as the convention progresses, as will the use of the misnomer.
They are not attack dogs; they are attack humans. And it’s unfair to identify them by lumping them into a whole different species — a species that’s smart enough to eschew the back-biting world of politics.
I have no problem with the political parties designating certain politicians to be the tough guys, to say the things that — be they borderline truths, senseless vitriol or other comments deemed too indecorous — the presidential candidate himself probably shouldn’t utter.
But let’s leave dogs out of it.
Let’s come up with another descriptive term, like Clint Eastwoods.
A true attack dog, of the canine variety, is a dog that humans have done all they could, through breeding, through training, through constantly reinforcing aggression, to instill that behavior. It’s not, at least since dog was domesticated, their natural way.
With politicians, I’m not so sure.
Those creatures you see at the political conventions are growling, smarmy, snarling humans, doing what their masters tell them to do. That’s not a behavior learned from dogs; it’s a behavior learned from politics.
(Photo: West Highland terriers Ricky and Reba, who, like most dogs, aren’t attack dogs at all)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack dogs, biden, castro, cliches, conventions, coverage, democrats, dogs, eastwood, networks, news, news media, news writing, o'malley, pets, political, politics, president, quinn, reid, republicans, terminology, vice president, writing
A Saturday climb to the summit of Cannon Mountain marked the completion of Randy “Zip” Pierce’s attempt to conquer all 48 of New Hampshire’s peaks — with his quide dog, The Mighty Quinn.
Pierce is the first blind hiker — and Quinn the first guide dog — to climb “The 48” in one winter, the Union Leader reports.
“I’m blown away by this experience. I’m absolutely exhilarated,” Pierce said, patting his seven-year-old yellow lab. “I’m a little choked up right now.”
“I am extremely proud of him, but I am not one bit surprised he did it. That’s just how Randy is,” said Pierce’s wife, Tracy, who led a group of friends to meet him at the summit with music, noisemakers and bells.
Pierce climbed the peaks in support of 2020 Vision Quest, a non-profit group that raises funds for the New Hampshire Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Pierce, who began losing his vision in 1989 due to a neurological disease and went completely blind in 2000, said he wants to ensure anyone who goes through vision loss has access to services like those that helped him.
The disease also affected his cerebellum, causing such severe vertigo he was confined to a wheelchair from 2004 to 2006. After a series of experimental treatments, he began to walk again.
“The most important thing I can tell anyone is the choice we make in how to respond to our life is going to have a bigger influence on our life than anything else ever could,” he said.
His guide dog, Quinn was presented with the Order of the Golden Biscuit at Saturday’s climb, making him the fourth canine to have completed the 48 peaks in a single winter.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2020 vision quest, animals, blind, climbing, disabilities, first, golden biscuit, guide dog, guiding eyes, hiker, hiking, mighty quinn, mountains, new hampshire, order of the golden biscuit, peaks, pets, quinn, randy pierce, randy zip pierce, the 48, the mighty quinn, winter