Here’s the original article by today’s contestant on Bad Writing.

This week we delve into the political blogosphere with an article entitled “A New Year Of What?” by Chris Vaca. Let us first establish that here on Bad Writing we are apolitical, so we are not offended so much by the generalized anti-Obama rhetoric in this piece as we are by the astoundingly poor prose. A quick perusal of some of the titles in Mr Vaca’s archive of work (“What’s The Difference Between Bozo and Obama?” and “We Need To Start Condemning People Again”) makes it quite clear that there won’t be much sophistication to his brand of political “analysis.” De Tocqueville, this is surely not. But it would be reasonable to expect some sense of basic composition beyond the level of a mediocre fourth grade summer vacation essay. Let’s go in on this one.

After a brief, messy introduction, we are presented with a quote from John McCain, which not coincidentally is the only coherent statement in the whole article. And it’s not the ideology but simply the proper use of grammar that makes the quoted statement so much more effective than Mr Vaca’s own writing. Poor sentence construction discredits the ideas therein, and this problem is particularly troublesome in a political opinion piece. Even if we might concede that Mr Vaca is attempting to assume an everyman perspective, his inability to properly form a sentence destroys his credibility as a commentator with any measure of insight.

Here’s an example:

  • Now Americans can see the difference between winning a war and just walking away from a war, to me that difference is having a leader.

This sentence is composed of two clauses in an effort to make the author’s trite idea seem more important. He believes political leadership is the determining factor in public perception of a war. It’s a simple statement, but his rhetorical ineptitude has turned it into one of bumbling incoherence. His use of two separate clauses has also required an unnecessary repetition of the word “difference,” which lends the sentence an amateurish tone rather than that of a mature political statement. We also don’t need the terms “Now Americans can see” and “to me,” as they sound like disclaimers that betray the author’s awareness of the shallowness of his own idea. Have the confidence to write simply and your ideas, no matter how dull, will be conveyed more effectively. In fact, let’s just drop the phrase “to me” from now on in any blogging context – no one is mistaking your middling buffoonery as the collected work of some scholarly think tank.

After a few more perfunctory statistics, Mr Vaca takes a strong jab at Obama’s performance:

  • Throw that on top of his failed foreign policy, you have to be Stevie Wonder to say this guy is doing a good job.

Ah, now we have an example of real wit. Swift, Twain, Vaca. Of course the structure is poor, as there is disagreement between the tone of the two clauses and we are missing a conjunction to boot. But more than that, the jab makes absolutely no sense. What would prevent Stevie Wonder from forming an opinion of Obama’s performance? He’s an accomplished musician with a history of charitable and political contributions. Is it because he’s blind? Is that the joke? No, it couldn’t be. Even Mr Vaca wouldn’t stoop so low to such a dumb, hacky attempt at humor. The problem is people forget…

  • The problem is people forget, I lived through the terrible years in the 1970’s in New York City, when they had Liberal Mayor Dinkins and he almost ran that city into the ground.

Enough with the clauses and commas. We get it, Mr Vaca, you don’t understand sentence structure. But why not just try simpler sentences so that you might by happenstance wander into some semblance of proper grammar every once in a while? There’s no reason for that first comma in this sentence, as the phrases should be connected by the word “that” in order to flow properly. More importantly, David Dinkins was elected in 1993. Even by the strained logic of this bad article, it’s a bit of a stretch to assign him the blame of the state of affairs in the 1970’s. Or are we getting so esoteric that we are referring to his city clerk tenure and not his mayoral stint? There is also disagreement in the way “I” turns to “they” – can you see how that might affect the credibility of this statement as well? In fact, there are so many inaccuracies in this single sentence that I’m beginning to wonder if this whole thing is some kind of joke. Maybe Mr Vaca is really an Obama supporter, and is simply trying to discredit the opposition with this parody of a delusional, poorly written editorial?

But it doesn’t end there. Even more troublesome than this blog entry was the discovery that Mr Vaca considers himself an actual author with the audacity to charge actual money for more examples of this sort of work. So let’s be fair. Maybe the blog is just a casual assemblage of random thoughts in comparison with the finely tuned prose in the book he’s actually selling for actual money on Amazon. So we ventured a look at the preview. Here’s the very first line of the foreward:

  • For those of you who are Baby Boomers, you will remember what society was like as compared to the way it is now, (That is if you don’t have Alzheimer’s yet.)

Admittedly, it takes great skill to manage to offend multiple groups of people in a single sentence, not to mention the innovative misuse of parentheses. But it seems to get even worse from there – the reference later in the foreward to the trite phrase “give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile” along with a chapter titled “1964 – The Beginning Of The End” might give some indication as to where this anti-Obama rhetoric comes from. I didn’t bother to read the rest of this book, as that would have required paying actual money for more of this sort of drivel, but 1964 has to signify either the Civil Rights Act or the introduction of The Beatles to America. Right? Either way, that chapter title stinks. Along with the rest of Mr Vaca’s attempts at writing.

We’re not going to attempt to fix this article this week. Instead, we sent the text to several grade school teachers from Montana. They were shocked and appalled, and one of them even wondered why there was a Yogi Berra reference in a political essay in 2014. The average grade was D+. You’re living in the past, Mr. Vaca. So while you’re there, why not learn how to write a proper sentence?

This has been another episode of Bad Writing – stuntin’ on the blogosphere since 2013.