Since I read the news that the Loose Lips columnist was leaving after many years, I’ve been psychologically holding my breath, hoping for the best but fearing the worst. But after reading several columns from the “new guy,” I have to vent a bit.

Now I know that it’s not fair to compare one writer to another. But in this case, both have slipped into the Loose Lips persona. And what I liked about the old LL—the smart, subtly sarcastic, sometimes caustic but always interesting revelations—has been replaced by blunt, angry, repetitive language that seems mostly insulting. It’s insulting to me as a reader and as a political citizen.

For example, in his Feb. 12 column, LL begins with insults regarding the mayor—”He’s nattered incessantly”—then sarcastically calls the mayor “Tony the alleged neophyte pol” and “Tony the vaunted manager.” Then he slides into what I call straight-boy-dude-speak. I mean, what is this constant use of military metaphors?

Let’s see, Williams believes in “management über alles,” and the former mayor had an “ancien régime.”

Then we go to Feb. 19. In his piece on D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, he says she’s “whipped [her] subordinates into a totalitarian panic” and works out of a “highly guarded bunker,” and the emergency trustees act like “North Korean troops whipped into a frenzy.”

Then there’s the Jan. 29 piece on the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. LL aimed barrage after barrage at the agency, and after the dust cleared, Lloyd J. Jordan fired back (with mortarlike projectiles otherwise known as words), and not only did LL fail to respond (counter-attack?), but some editor decided to pile on by headlining the letter “DCRAnt” (The Mail, 2/12). So LL reports, but others rant?

The issue here is credibility, and whether the Washington City Paper can foster a lively and interesting exchange of ideas without turning LL into the Jerry Springer section.

In between all the cheap shots and tired clichés, the new LL has had some good points. That’s what I’ve always liked about the LL column—from it I learn what’s really going on from one person’s (experienced) point of view. But now I believe there’s the potential with this new guy to waste all that credibility built up by the old LL.

Someone needs to yank on the new guy’s leash a few times.

Rosslyn, Va.

via the Internet