Conditional clauses

You say Steve Murphy should have acted differently? If you were in Steve Murphy’s shoes now, what would you have (already- it is implied) done about the atrocious continuing attacks regarding his interview with Dion that Steve Murphy hasn’t (yet- it is implied) done? Sue, maybe? Did you understand the question? If not you aren’t of a certain age when such conditional clauses were common to phrase this kind of hypothetical question. It is clear that Steve Murphy is of that certain age and A. Frank Grunt (among other press types who have covered this story ad nauseum) isn’t. The question is perfectly clear to one versed in English usage above a certain level. It might not be to one who was French speaking, but that is another issue. In retrospect, if we were in Dion’s position we would have made sure we had a competent translator handy; his English comprehension isn’t as good as he, or we,  thought, but probably as good, it appears, as most reporters in the English Liberal press.

Our question (which we will phrase very, very simply without any conditional clauses)  is “what does Frank have against Steve Murphy?”  We add as a comment “Your slip is showing“, that slip of bias which is so unbecoming to anyone of style. As a friend of Frank we feel compelled to point it out, just as a relative of ours resigned herself to the certain loss of any bequest by pointing out to a dear elderly aunt that she should pull her legs and skirt together when sitting on a raised platform with TV cameras running.

In Frank’s last issue they devoted 5 or 6 or more pages to Steve Murphy’s supposed “betrayal of journalistic practice”. In this issue it gets almost as much print although it is scattered throughout the magazine. This is not the first time that Frank has gone after Steve.

We will here declare OUR bias. We think that Steve Murphy may have indeed made a mistake and that was in implying -if he did – that the outtakes wouldn’t see the light of day, or that this was within his authority. We believe CTV would have been remiss if they had smothered the re-dos and word of the content had leaked out (which it most certainly would have) especially if it had been withheld until after the election. [Did you understand that complex sentence with the use of a 3rd conditional tense construction?] The loss of a Conservative majority could well have been blamed on this interview cover-up, had it been hidden. Instead, it seems the mainstream press has tried to blame Dion’s loss, at least partly, on the release of the interview re-starts.

For Frank to continue to beat this dead horse seems to imply that they don’t have any other beasts to flog. We are sure there are lots of good stories out there and we look forward to reading them in Frank.

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5 responses to “Conditional clauses

  1. Andrew Glencross

    I’m generally a fan of Steve too, but I think you’ve cut him way too much slack here. The problem with his question was not that it didn’t make grammatical sense, or even that it was too complicated for a non-English speaker to understand, but that it was just a stupid question, in any language, and one whose point it’s hard to fathom. Dion was correct to repeatedly ask, “How long am I supposed to have been Prime Minister in this hypothetical scenario?” and it’s unfortunate (as opposed to “calculated,” let us hope) that Murphy refused to answer him. There are so many factors, occurring over such a long period of time, that contributed to the current economic crisis, that to ask a political candidate in a public broadcast how he could have averted it, without being more specific about the powers you are assuming him to have had, amounts to attempted character assassination. It’s only because the issue was still a current concern that Steve even got away with it. Had he asked, “If you were prime minister in 1941, what would you have done to avoid World War II?” and then kept repeating the question word for word when asked for more specifics, I hope that viewers would have seen Dion’s rising frustration as just, and Murphy’s inability to clarify himself as foolish and/or manipulative.

  2. Well, we disagree that it was a stupid question given that Dion had repeatedly said that Harper should have been doing more. Murphy was asking what “more” Dion would have been doing had he been in Harper’s shoes. We can argue about whether he could have phrased it differently or whether an answer to Dion’s question back to Murphy “PM since when?” would have helped him understand. It is water under the bridge. Frankly Murphy looked as frustrated as Dion by the whole thing.

    But the point of our post really wasn’t as much about Murphy’s question as it was about Frank’s bias against Steve Murphy and the inordinate amount of ink given to it in not only two but three issues. If you look back they have slammed him repeatedly before this series of stories and it is unseemly, we think, to show so much bias against one person, and since we like -generally- what Frank does (which is skewer everyone of whatever political stripe who goes offside and talk about the things the main stream press leaves invisibly between the lines) we wanted to call them on it. Sometimes one’s own bias is hardest to see and you need a good friend to tell you.

  3. Better wording:

    “What more could Stephen Harper have done to better weather this economic storm?”

  4. A real politician gets his/her message out regardless of the question. Dion was inept. To complain about Murphy and CTV is to miss the point.

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