You know those questions on the reading part of the SAT that test your reading comprehension by giving you a short passage to read and then asking you to select the best title from a list of four? Yeah, well, I’m starting to wonder what your average Associated Press editor scores on that section. For example, I don’t think anyone who got a basic “ready-for-university” score could’ve come up with a title like Obama Urges Patience as Healthcare Law Kicks In for the linked article, which includes quotes like:
Can you imagine if some of these reporters were working on a farm and you planted some seeds, and they came out the next day and they looked and — ‘Nothing’s happened. There’s no crop. We’re going to starve. Oh, no! It’s a disaster!’ It’s been a week, folks. So, before we find out if people like health care reform, we should wait to see what happens when we actually put it into place. Just a thought.
That’s in response to the fact that papers have been printing the fact that the public is “still” divided on healthcare reform as though it were news or something, which of course it is.
Failing to take his own advice about waiting, the President continues(from another version of the same article):
“Leaders of the Republican Party have actually been calling the passage of this bill ‘Armageddon.’ They say it’s the end of freedom as we know it,” Obama said. “So after I signed the bill, I looked up to see if there were any asteroids headed our way. I checked to see if any cracks had opened up in the ground. But you know what? It turned out to be a pretty nice day.”
Because it’s only Obama’s predictions that need time to come true, apparently.
But the question before the court is this: when you think of “urging patience,” does it typically include the kind of whiny, sarcastic, thin-skinned responses I’ve quoted? It doesn’t for me. “Urge patience,” to me, implies a manner of speaking that is basically respectful (though it could be agitated). It certainly isn’t the kind of thing you say about someone who is clearly taking personally some par-for-the-course opinion poll reporting and feels the need to ridicule any and everyone who disagrees with him!
They say the most common correct answer on the SAT is (a) – by design, so that the smart kids can recognize the correct answer quickly and move on. So I guess for this article “Obama Urges Patience as Healthcare Law Kicks In” should be answer (c) – you know, the one that weeds out the guy who finds this challenging (and so has to read it carefully) by presenting him with a technically plausible alternative (on a very narrow, purely functionalist reading of “urge patience” I suppose that’s what the President is doing) that is nevertheless not the best of the available answers. Answer (a), in this case, being something like “Childish President Whines in Response to Imagined Slight.”