Friday, January 14, 2011

And be there no puddles up yonder...?

Over at the Language Log a blog I can't link to because I don't remember which it was yesterday, there was a post about a speech by Barack Obama given at the funeral of a girl from Arizon who was killed by a nut who was upset with a local politician. I'm sure you know the story. The article quoted a part of that speech, and I was struck by what, mulling it over later, I realized is probably the oddest line I have ever seen in a piece of political discourse. He said, 'If there are rain puddles in heaven, then Cristina is jumping in them today.'

It is, of course, more than likely that I am missing some context here, but it is still a very strange thing to say. The address- I didn't hear it, I only read the part quoted by the Log blogger- seems to have satisfied a number of very difficult conditions and restraints. Whoever wrote it was given a task on the following lines: it's got to be simple and elegant; it's got to reflect the age and implied attributes of the deceased; it must take as read that everyone hearing is united in feeling what it expresses, but it must make some implicit mention anyway, just in case; it must place Cristina rather than Obama at the focus of its attention, and it must at least keep the popularity index stable; oh, and it must contain something quotable that even the kids can understand.

There is broad agreement that it managed to do all this. I still find the line extraordinary, however. What if there are no puddles in heaven? Is he condemning her to an eternity stomping around in Wellington boots feeling angry and disappointed. Why puddles? Did he pull them out of nowhere. Why assume that she is in Heaven, or that she is happy to be there? Surely she would be happier to be still down here, and not cruelly summoned to paradise. Puddles are, at most, in these circumstances, a paliative of sadness, not an aid to happiness.

Anyhow, this has been your blogging hedgehog's way of not contributing to the blast of noise booming out of the empty vessels that the press and the blogosphere are so filled with. It is, is it not, so much easier to be right when you have no idea what you're talking about? For this reason I ask a question which it might in fact be possible  to answer.

So why puddles?

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