hit more fairways. make more putts. avoid the hazards. play by the rules.
Freshman J School Assignment

Posted on Tuesday 4 April 2006

Here’s the lead sentence from the third ‘graf of today’s Washington Post article about DeLay quitting both Congress and his race to be reelected:

DeLay, who will turn 59 on Saturday, did not say precisely when he would step down, but under Texas law he must either die, be convicted of a felony, or move out of his district to be removed from the November ballot.

Attention fact checkers: the applicable Texas election law (§ 145.035. WITHDRAWN, DECEASED, OR INELIGIBLE CANDIDATE’S NAME OMITTED FROM BALLOT) actually says nothing about felony convictions. It reads, “A candidate’s name shall be omitted from the ballot if the candidate withdraws, dies, or is declared ineligible on or before the 74th day before election day.” According to § 141 a candidate is eligible only if he is a US citizen over 18, meets residency requirements, has not been found mentally incompetent and has not been “finally” convicted of a felony (pardoned felons apparently are eligible in Texas). So at best the Post writers and editors decided that it would easier for them to paint an incomplete picture of the law, pandering to the wingnut element of the Democratic party at the same time, than to actually inform readers. That’s at best.

Your assignment, class, is to rewrite the sentence for the Post. Your rewrite must accurately and succinctly convey the facts. Given that we’re talking about the Post, your political bias may show through. Here’s an example: “DeLay, who will turn 59 on Saturday, did not say precisely when he would step down. Under Texas law his name may be removed from the ballot if he withdraws from the race, becomes ineligible or passes away.” (A good editor would probably delete the “passes away” phrase as superfluous, by the way.)

And to think that I actually pay for this paper. At least the Sports pages are good.

[By the way: I’m no fan of DeLay and his ilk, and am in no way sad to see him departing the main stage.]

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