[sic] ’em

The Universe has a perverse sense of humor. After vacationing my way through the Republican bloodbath convention, I returned home last night eager to grab my knitting and watch the Democrats make history. Sadly, I brought home a souvenir from California—a cold and fever.

I rallied last night long enough to write something about Hillary’s nomination. I posted it over at LinkedIn to bring it to the attention of my professional colleagues. But I’ll post it here too, so you can have something topical to read with your morning coffee.


Early in my career, I wanted to learn all about could about presidential speeches. In a world before TED, they were about as high-profile as a speechwriter could get. And the gig attracted the best writers, too. So I read a book called Presidents Creating the Presidency: Deeds done in words by Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

The thing I remember most about this book, published 26 years ago, was its liberal use of “[sic].” We all know that’s Latin for “thus,” right? It’s a disclaimer writers use when we’re quoting something that’s got a mistake in it. Or, as Campbell and Jamieson deployed it, an implict assumption they did not share.

What did they [sic]? Every quotation that referred to presidents as “he.”

It struck me as being very forward-thinking. I mean, yes – in theory presidents did not necessarily have to be male. But for over 200 years they had been. Although I had already voted for a ticket that held out the possibility of a woman Vice President, in the early 1990s it seemed a stretch to imagine a woman running at the top of the ticket, much less winning. As much as I wanted to believe a woman could be elected president, deep inside I didn’t expect it to happen in my lifetime. Campbell and Jamieson clearly had their sights set on their book being read for many generations.

Today in Philadelphia, we got one step closer to electing a woman to the highest office in the nation. One step closer to writing [sic] into our history books.

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