Mark Twain is reported to have said. “Use the right word — not its second cousin.” I resort to this remark fairly often when going over papers with my freshpeeps. But of course, we all channel Mrs. Malaprop from time to time — indeed, I think she and the Vice-President may have a common-law marriage — and this is true even for professional wordslingers.
The Regular Guy noticed a piece in Politico a few days back, and zeroed in on the fact that the article says the President feels genuine contempt for Mitt Romney. Now, the use of “genuine contempt” may be a combination of the use of a Twainesque second cousin and rhetorical overkill — rather like the misuse of literally that has cropped up in latter-day discourse — on the part of the writer, but if it’s accurately descriptive, the Regular Guy has some valuable things to say about it:
what does it say about Barack Obama that he could hate a man like Mitt Romney? A fellow American who has never committed a crime, who has never been divorced, who has raised five children to successful adulthood, who is a beloved grandfather to eighteen grandchildren, who has had what President Bill Clinton called a “sterling” business career, who gave up untold tens or hundreds of millions of future wealth to retire from Bain to run the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, who served honorably as the governor of Massachusetts, who has given tens of millions of dollars to charity and paid tens or hundreds of millions in taxes, etc., etc. To despise him, to vilify him, to hate him is to provide extraordinary evidence of an almost pathological separation from reality.
Give him a look.