My favorite political blog, TalkingPointsMemo, is usually insightful on policy, and even more so on politics. But what really distinguishes it from the competition is the quality of its writing, even in short, ephemeral posts. For example, this is from an item posted today:
“Many of our foreign policy thinkers seem to be developing the kind of character damage suffered by children who can buy the best toy every time their parents go to the mall — the inability to distinguish between necessities, simple wants and the mere desire for kicks which is born of pervasive moral boredom.”
Read the whole post if you have time — it’s excellent, especially given its brevity.
But he said “a national catastrophe of historic proportions”. That’s bad: I despise that “of X proportion” trope.
Ooh, I finally got to use the word “trope”.
Okay, I admit that there is a degree of hyperbole in his sentence.
However, the overuse of that trope elsewhere should not blind us to the fact that there are, sometimes, national catastrophes that genuinely are of historic proportions. The Iraq War will haunt U.S. foreign policy for a generation, as Vietnam did, though perhaps less severely. Or perhaps more severely: Vietnam did not become a breeding ground for terrorist organizations and deludedly utopian religious fundamentalists (unless you count the Vietnamese communist government, I suppose, but as theirs was not a religious conviction, it has mellowed over time).
Anyway, I don’t mind the trope as much as you do, I have to admit. Much good writing contains set pieces; I think they’re actually necessary in some ways, to give the reader’s brain time to catch up with the more original phrases.
It wasn’t entirely clear to me whether you were objecting to the trope no matter what the value of X, or just to the use of “historic”.