Sunday, March 3, 2013

Obama or the Whistleblower - Which One Has Hubris?

I love words.  Call me a logophile as well as a blogophile.  When I write, I never resort to a thesaurus.  I enjoy the struggle of trying to find the right word.  There’s not a day that passes that I am not in the dictionary looking up a new word, or more likely, looking up the definition of a word for the 3rd or 4th time whose meaning I cannot retain.  I find that until I use the word, the definition is dangling out of reach.   There are many words that I think I use correctly, yet when I verify the actual definition, I find that I have been using the word more creatively than, perhaps, I should. 

Indeed, recently I engaged in some verbal sparring over the word responsive.  I had thought that this word could be used to describe a response to an inquiry that was on point, not evasive and forthrightly addressed the matter at hand, yet I did not find this meaning included in the definition of standard dictionaries.

Here’s how I have used the word.

“Have you read the latest Whistleblower masterpiece?  Doesn’t that guy have a great wit?”

“I think his blog is part of a vast right wing conspiracy and he should be thrown over the fiscal cliff!”

While the response above may be true, I would describe it as not responsive to the initial inquiry.

Here’s the dictionary entry:

1.      Reacting quickly and positively.
2.      Responding readily and with interest or enthusiasm.

While my meaning is not included above, I’m not ready to wave the white flag here.  Being quite sure that this term is used regularly by lawyers when attacking a witness’s answer as being not responsive, I consulted informally with an attorney acquaintance of mine.  I will keep his identity private as if his colleagues discover that he rendered any advice without a clock ticking, I would fear for his personal security.  This officer of the court confirmed that my usage is proper.

So, I am not prepared to concede and am girding my loins for further verbal lexical combat.

In days of yore, there were several hard cover dictionaries strewn about the house, and another in my office. I am reluctant to admit publicly that it was a delight for me to slowly turn the pages and scan word entries, lest if my kids read this, they may erroneously conclude that their father is a nerd.  There’s not a nerd bone in my hip & groovy body.  Yes, I read our encyclopedia from cover to cover as a youngster.  Didn’t everybody?    And so I turn C-SPAN on from time to time...

What All the Cool Kids Read

Consider the word hubris.  What does it mean precisely?  Is it arrogance?  Smugness?  Superciliousness? 

Here’s Merriam Webster’s definition:

Exaggerated pride or self-confidence.

One could say that there is plenty of hubris in this blog, although I deny that the author suffers this flaw.  I am but a modest and humble scrivener.  I agree, however, that there is hubris contained within the Whistleblower pages.  When I post on Obamacare and its Democratic cheerleaders, one can’t ignore their hubris.  When I describe a plaintiffs’ bar that asserts that the tort system is a paragon of justice, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that these guys are guilty of hubris.  When I write of physicians who defend their parochial interests over the greater good, readers rightly sense an overdose of hubris. 

Perhaps, I am truly the smug one here.  Indeed there have been comments over the past few years that have diagnosed me with Smarmyitis.  If you are not familiar with this malady, see below.

Here's the definition:

Definition of SMARMY

: revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness smarmy
: of low sleazy taste or quality <smarmy eroticism>

Do current readers concur with this diagnosis?   Should I seek a second opinion?  Kindly leave comments which I hope will lack hubris and be very responsive. 

Shout out to NZ and to LSP for being players in a responsive repartee.


  1. It is my humble opinion that anyone who bloviates week after week in his own blog suffers from some degree of smarmyitis. ;)

  2. blo·vi·ate (blv-t)
    intr.v. blo·vi·at·ed, blo·vi·at·ing, blo·vi·ates Slang
    To discourse at length in a pompous or boastful manner

    How dare you make such a baseless accusation? Identify yourself and shed your anonymity!

  3. to reply would be responsive to a level of hubris.
    Alternateively - " Garn he's swallowed a dictionary "

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Prescriptive vs. descriptive language.