[Originally Broadcast on
Public Radio]

Musta, Notta, Gotta if I Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

On a hot record from the 70's Joe Ely sang "I musta notta gotta lotta sleep last night." What a great lyric. Musta-notta-gotta is right up there with should'a-would'a-could'a. Which brings us to the topic of this little rant: WOULDA…or more specifically, the verb WOULD.

Politicians are crazy about this word. In its most popular context it comes before the word "say." That's because WOULD implies a negative condition.

If you ask: "Is Dr. Write going to buy his wife a birthday card?" And I begin to reply by saying "I would…", you expect the next word to be "BUT."

"I would…but I forgot to stop at the store."

And it's because of this negative expectation that politicians love to precede their answers with a WOULD.

"Senator Whiplash, what can you say about the animal rights bill?"
      "Well…I would say that it's long overdue."

Yes. That's what he WOULD say. So why not just say it?

"Senator Whiplash, what can you say about the animal rights bill?"

Wouldn't it be refreshing if the answer was straight to the point? No woulda, no coulda, no shoulda. No ifs, ands or buts.

      "The animal rights bill is long overdue."

Don't hold your breath, though.

"Is that your answer, Senator?"
      "Oh…er…no…let me rephrase that."

He musta notta gotta lotta sleep last night.

I recently heard the commentator Wolf Blitzer-is he related to Fox Muldar?-announce a report from "one of the world's most secret societies…that would be North Korea" he said.

Would it?

I don't know. But I do know that WOULD is what my Daddy called a weasel word. It's in the same box with maybe' and kind of. It makes you sound like a wimp. And let's face it. Nobody wants to sound like a wimp.

Except, maybe….a politician.