February 18, 2006

Totally, utterly and irredeemably gaga

Frankly, the media hype about Vice Predident Cheney's obvious shortcomings as a gun handler bored me stiff, the more, as even here in Germany, arguably the country with the vilest anti-American media (yet) outside the Muslim world, the "if-Bush-sneezes-a-puppy-dies" faction kept commendably quiet.

But this morning my boredom quickly ended.

My start page when I access the Internet is a customized version of Google news. This morning, the following headline jumped at me:
Feb. 17, 2006, 10:36PM
Injured lawyer apologizes to Cheney, family
Attorney counts himself lucky, says he is 'sorry' for what the VP has gone through
By JAMES PINKERTON and JANET ELLIOTT
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

CORPUS CHRISTI - His face was marked with nicks and bruises and his voice was a little raspy.

But attorney Harry Whittington was all grace Friday as he described himself a lucky person and issued a sincere apology to the man who accidentally shot him — Vice President Dick Cheney.

"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week," Whittington said. "We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we had this week.

"We hope he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation he deserves."
After a six-day recovery from the shotgun blast, which also caused a minor heart attack, Whittington checked out of the Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial on Friday afternoon and returned home to Austin. He was shot during a quail hunt Saturday on the 50,000-acre Armstrong Ranch in Kenedy County.

Standing ramrod straight and looking dapper in a charcoal blazer, grey slacks and tie, the 78-year-old Austin lawyer spoke briefly before he left. He gave no details of the incident but said it was an accident.

Eyewitnesses have said Whittington left a group of hunters, including Cheney, to retrieve two downed quail. As Whittington started to return to the group, Cheney turned to fire his 28-gauge Italian shotgun at a quail flying in Whittington's direction. He peppered Whittington's face, neck and chest with a spray of small birdshot at a range of about 30 yards, witnesses said.

Whittington indicated that being hit by stray birdshot is an inherent risk in hunting.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article.]
As Mr. Whittington is still doing fine in his job as a lawyer (or so I understand) he can't be what the headline suggests and be totally, utterly and irredeemably gaga. Or should the birdshot pellets in his had account for such an idiocy? I mean the man DID commit a violation of hunting protocol in that he left the line of guns (what you Americans call hunters) to retrieve a bird, but that doesn't exactly make it excusable that he was hit and, as far as I see, that wasn't even the point of the authors and only a total, utter and irredeemable moron would apologise for being shot, however murky the circumstances.

But did he apologise? He said: "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week..." We are sorry, right? We are sorry as in: we are sad, grieved, distressed, unhappy. That was magnanimous of him but not an apology. And hey! We are always happy to improve our knowledge of the English language! (Even of the American language, for that...) The usage of "I am sorry" as synonymous with "I apologize" is relatively recent, to be precise 'as another way to say "excuse me" it is first attested 1972'. A time, when Whittington was presumably safely through his language-forming stage. Which as safely identifies the chap who drew up that incredible headline as the total, utter and irredeemable moron and not the elderly lawyer.

Isn't it nice when linguistics support common sense?