These Troubled Times We Live In

Has anyone else noticed that troubled has officially become a newsy euphemism for totally fucked up?

Here, for instance, a NY Times editorial describes the plethora of “deeply troubling aspects of the Gonzales nomination.”

Here, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that conservative Minnesotan Republican Mark Kennedy found proposed Congressional ethics changes “troubling.” And from the same story: “What's troubling about Tuesday's vote is not that it insulates DeLay or demonstrates GOP unity, but that it entrenches a style of politics that has placed the consolidation of party power above conduct of the nation's business.”

Here, Common Cause’s VP for Advocacy, Celia Viggo Wexler, responds to the proposed Congressional ethics changes by saying, “When a party is in power for a certain amount of time, they get more lax about ethics… You also see a kind of culture growing up that is troubling: If there's a rule that's nettlesome or in your way, just get rid of it."

Here, the Lebanon Daily Star describes America’s “pattern of interaction with this region” as “troubling.”

Here, the NY Times reports that the results of Americans training Iraqi police offers and national guard troops have been “troubling.”

I remember countless uses of the word “troubling” in describing former aspirant to Homeland Security Chief Bernard Kerik’s past. However, I think this one is my favorite:
While banishing doubters, Bush has been recruiting sycophants.

Bush’s ill-fated choice of Bernard Kerik to run the Department of Homeland Security collapsed after disclosures of Kerik’s questionable judgment in other jobs and his possible hiring of an illegal alien as a nanny. But the more troubling story may have been that Bush wanted a yes man like Kerik to oversee a department with broad powers over the civil liberties of American citizens.

Though Bush judged the former New York police commissioner to be a “good man,” others who knew Kerik had different opinions. For instance, while working for a Saudi hospital 20 years ago, Kerik ran the investigative arm of a security force that allegedly harassed and spied on American employees because they weren’t complying with strict Saudi rules governing alcohol and dating, according to former hospital employees interviewed by the Washington Post.

“Kerik was a goon,” said John Jones, a former hospital manager who also called Kerik and his security team “Gestapo.”
The use of the word is almost comical in its understatement. Changing Congressional ethics rules to accommodate your loathsome party leaders isn’t troubling – it’s totally fucked up. Alberto Gonzales’ résumé isn’t troubling – it’s totally fucked up. Someone who can seemingly be accurately compared to a member of the Gestapo being slated to run our Department of Homeland Security isn’t troubling – it’s totally fucked up!

I say to hell with the FCC. From here on out, anyone who’s been carefully selecting the use of the word troubling to substitute for what we all know they really mean ought to just let fly with it. After all, VP Dark Lord Dick Cheney didn’t tell Patrick Leahy he was “troubled” by his criticisms of Halliburton, now did he?

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