Logic: A Losing Battle

The end of civilization as we know it has frequently been identified in recent years, but today’s New York Times (December 20, 2009) provided additional evidence that the end is near. Writing about the Senate health care bill, Times writers Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn informed us that
“Should Democrats prevail, it will put an exclamation point on an eventful first year of their control of Congress and the White House and leave Republicans on the Napoleonic side of what one predicted could be President Obama’s Waterloo.”

Could you parse that, please? For those as uninformed as Times writers, Wikipedia confirmed my recollection (though I wasn’t there) that: “The defeat at Waterloo put an end to Napoleon’s rule as the French emperor, and marked the end of Napoleon’s Hundred Days of return from exile.” Thus “Waterloo,” my dictionary tells me, has become a synonym for “a crushing defeat.”

So if Republicans are on “the Napoleonic (i.e. losing) side,” how could “Obama’s Waterloo” be “a crushing defeat”?

But logic and language drift ever further apart. A “man on the street” interview on today’s radio news (CBS) reported that his suburb had gotten a lot more snow than the city, which, he said, “never happens that way usually.”

Go figure!


LibbyDecember 22nd, 2009 at 10:38 am

I think the operative word is "predicted"–ie, some had predicted that the health care bill would be Obama's Waterloo (putting him on the Napoleonic side) but if the Dems prevail, then it will put the Republicans on the Napoleonic side.

Clear as mud!

LisaDecember 22nd, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I'm with Libby. I'll cast my vote for untangling the New York Times' fumble-footed metaphor.

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