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Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


An exceptional craftsman, he gives readers an aesthetic as well as political experience and has evoked comparisons to H.L. Mencken and William Allen White. A thoughtful essayist who can also be a devastating critic, Greenberg describes himself as "an ideologically unreliable conservative."

Greenberg won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing and was a Pulitzer finalist in 1978 and 1986. Among his many other honors are the 1988 William Allen White Award, the 1988 Arkansas Associated Press Editorial Writing Award, the 1987 H.L. Mencken Award, the 1983 University of Missouri School of Journalism Medal of Honor, the American Society of Newspaper Editors' 1981 Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary, and the 1964 Grenville Clark Editorial Award. He also won two Walker Stone Awards, in 1985 and 1986.

Greenberg has been on the board of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and served as a Pulitzer jurist in 1984 and 1985. He is the author of the critically acclaimed "Resonant Lives: 50 Figures of Consequence" and "Entirely Personal."

Politispeak: A language like no other
t’s a language all its own. Only a beginner may need a guide for the perplexed. Those fluent in it just let it wash over them the way Angelenos do the smog. Examples abound: 

■ What they say: “I would do a tax, and the tax, let me tell you what the tax should be. The tax should be 45 percent.” — Donald Trump, speaking of how much China’s exports to this country should be taxed.

What they mean: “There, that ought to please all the voters who yearn for an oldfashioned, mutually destructive trade war like the one that led to the Great Depression. It may or may not be good policy now — what do I know or care about economics? But I do care, very much, about how many votes I can get in the primaries. And I’ll say anything to get them.” 

■ What they say: “Everything this year should be infused with a sense of possibility. Don’t take the foot off the gas pedal.” — Barack Obama.

What they mean: “Look at me. And how positive and upbeat I can be. Pay no attention to all those ghost writers behind the curtain. Or all those Republican presidential candidates so eager to confirm that I’m just another lame-duck president. Look at me. Look at me.” 

■ What they say: “The guiding assumption was that Iran would not moderate its behavior. The president considered it absolutely critical to get this nuclear deal because we had no assessment that in the foreseeable future Iran would change its approach.” — Rob Malley, the president’s top Middle East adviser.

What they mean: “We knew all along that Iran was not going to change a thing on account of this nuclear deal. It’s always best to have your excuses made before everything falls apart, complete with a cliche like ‘foreseeable future,’ as if anything in the future were foreseeable.” 

■ What they say: “Let’s give it a few days. It was made clear. We shall monitor (the nuclear deal with Iran) but do nothing.” — A nameless American diplomat.

What they mean: “Absolutely nothing.” 

■ What they say: “If you were working on the nuclear deal, you were saying, ‘Don’t do too much.’ “ — Michael McFaul, former senior National Security Council official at the White House before becoming ambassador to Russia in 2012.

What they mean: “All the usual cliches about adopting a policy of benign neglect, watchful waiting and don’t borrow trouble that were already old when you heard them in U.S. Foreign Policy 305.”

— Paul Greenberg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and columnist with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Reach him at .