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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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[Wednesday September 4, 2013]

By on February 12, 2014 in See It Here, The Way I See It, Writing

I watched the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State Kerry, Defense Secretary Hagel and Joint Chiefs chairman General Dempsey make the case for a limited bombing of Syria as a result of proof chemical weapons had been used.

Critics will say I’m making the same case about the most overused phrase in the history of civilization (“send a message”) just as I did in my last post. Rather than debate this, I’m going to just agree so we can get to my concern faster.

Everyone in front of the senators, and most of the senators themselves, used these tired, meaningless and now-nonsensical three words to ad nauseum: send a message.

There was concern about the message we would send by sending cruise missiles to chemical weapons delivery systems. There was angst about the message we send to allies if we don’t do a darn thing. There was hand-wringing over the message we send to Iran if we “degrade” Syrian president Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s regime. Secretary of State Kerry refused to disclose what was meant by “degrade” which would be addressed in a closed session—in other words, without Wolf Blitzer doing play-by-play in between commercials for Ram Trucks.

Here’s the question about all of this message sending: If nobody gets the message, why do we worry about sending it? Mr. Assad isn’t being targeted so there’s no message to be received. If he was being targeted, we wouldn’t (hopefully) tell him so he still wouldn’t get a message although I’d say the smart money is someone in Damascus is setting up a way to get a laser sight on Assad’s forehead.

The message I received after three hours of watching is that Teresa Heinz Kerry, sitting behind her husband, was ready to get out of Capitol Hill as soon as possible after the first twenty minutes.

I understand “send a message,” like “at the end of the day” is part of politics-talk. It is time however to communicate and this can’t be done if the eyes of the person getting the message or those of the American people who are trying to understand the message, are glazed over.

Will it change? Of course not. But man if it did, that would be awesome—-oh no.

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