Friday, May 30, 2008

Verb Tenses

Grandma Slump had a good life. Grandma Slump has a good life. Grandma Slump will have a good life. It's true, over the years she's had a good life. Whether, though, she has a good life now, or will have a good life, for her is a matter of some discussion.

Remembering her unique -- so far as we know -- status as someone spending time both on Earth and in Heaven, the usual verb tenses don't matter to her in quite the same manner as they matter to the rest of us.

John McCain is different. Did you know I was going there? Do you know now that I went there? Two questions. One relates to the future, one to the past. But to John McCain, that is nitpicking, and verb tenses don't make any different. So, just out of imagination, let's say John McCain says "We have achieved victory in Iraq," he could very well mean, "We will someday achieve victory in Iraq if we stay there 100 years." Past tense, future tense, doesn't make any difference.

To Bill Clinton, it depended on what the meaning of "is" is. To John McCain it depends on what the meaning of "is" was or might be at some point in the future. There's no point of "is." There's only this amorphous time stew that people in hallucinations or people at advanced ages -- way beyond retirement -- might imagine.

The reason all this came up is that he said we now have less people in Iraq than before the surge. But the opposite turns out to be true. But John McCain says so what? It's just a verb tense. By saying we now have less people in Iraq than before the surge, he means eventually that will be true. By the same token, I now have a million dollars. Actually, I'm broke. But what I mean is that I will have a million dollars, if I win the lottery. So to say it now or to say it later when it may or may not happen is all the same thing. The point is I want a million dollars, and I may as well say I have it, because in the future, who knows? It could happen.

Hey, maybe I'll enjoy John McCain as president. Whatever I want the future to be, I will proclaim it already here. You've heard of preemptive war, this is preemptive optimism. Why live down in the mouth today, tomorrow's coming! Happy Days are here again. By which I mean, at some point in the future, hopefully, if everything works out, Happy Days will be here again. Just verb tenses. It's the same thing. They're here!

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