One of the things that drove me craziest when I lived in Seattle several years ago was the astounding ability of the city's politicians to suck the plain meaning out of words -- and to replace them with a rhetorical muddle as gray and hazy as the city's famous skies.
They're still at it. The Associated Press reports this week that the left-wing city council can't even agree on a basic resolution offering support to our troops.
The original resolution, proposed by Seattle citizen Michael Behar, declares that the city "wholeheartedly supports and appreciates the brave men and women of Seattle serving in the United States Military, and wishes them Godspeed in their dangerous missions and a safe return from harm's way."
This apparently offended antiwar Councilman Nick Licata so much that he proposed a lengthy addendum:
"We also urge our government to not abandon a foreign policy that can still achieve victory through diplomacy and engagement with the United Nations. Avoiding and ending unnecessary combat in Iraq is a sure way to support our troops and ensure their safe and speedy return home. We deeply regret the loss of life, destruction of homes, and damage to cities and infrastructure in Iraq. Our hearts go out to the people of Iraq in this time of suffering and loss, and we hope and pray for peace at the earliest possible time."
Other council members objected to depicting the troops' current mission as a response to "foreign tyrants and aggressors." Another member complained about a simple line praising local soldiers for answering the call of duty "whenever the cause of freedom is threatened." One politician suggested describing the troops as fighting not "in defense of their country" but for "military service."
Can you imagine if the Seattle City Council appeasers had been around to edit some of the most famous quotations in the history of war? Take a peek:
Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. -- General George Patton Jr.
(Seattleified: Arrive with me at a peaceful consensus or form an alternative decision-making committee to explore underrepresented options.)
War is hell. -- General William Tecumseh Sherman
(Seattleified: Armed conflict is a very, very, very negative thing.)
The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. -- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, address to his troops on D-Day 1944
(Seattleified: While we support your efforts in general, our hopes and prayers are that you avoid unnecessary destruction of sea and plant life as you land on the fragile beaches at Normandy.)
Give me liberty or give me death. -- Patrick Henry
(Seattleified: Give non-aggression a chance.)
History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. -- General Dwight D. Eisenhower
(Seattleified: We refuse to rewrite this offensive statement. It is a hate crime against the weak and timid.)
The best form of defense is attack. -- Karl von Clausewitz
(Seattleified: The most preferable form of defense is a sit-in, candle lighting, and survival kit with bottled water, Nutella, environmentally safe non-plastic sheeting and homemade cornstarch paste (a non-industrial alternative to duct tape).)
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! -- Ronald W. Reagan
(Seattleified: Mr. Gorbachev, we will maintain a non-judgmental posture toward the Communist regime. P.S. Do you think Moscow would be interested in being our new sister city?)
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. -- Sir Winston Churchill
(Seattleified: We have nothing to offer but tears, tears, tears, and tears.)
Never give in -- never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. -- Churchill
(Seattleified: Always give in -- always, always, always, always . . . )
My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time . . . Go home and get a nice quiet sleep. -- British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the Great Appeaser, after handing over Czechoslovakia to Hitler to avoid war
(Seattleified: Perfect! We wouldn't change a word.)