A minor point

What is wrong with the word “harm”? Or “damage”? Why is it always “negatively impact” now? Why is a stupid clumsy circumlocution that includes a noun pretending to be a verb preferable to a single blunt word of one or two syllables?

Is it for the same reason that so many people say “poor” when they mean bad? “It’s poor weather for a walk.” Because of some nebulous worry that “bad” might hurt someone’s feelings? Like, say, the weather’s?

Why else would Kathleen Sebelius say it?

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the rule, issued in the last days of the Bush administration, could “negatively impact patient access to contraception and certain other medical services.”

Or is it because it sounds more official and like something a cabinet member is supposed to say? But if so, why does it? Why does “negatively impact” now sound somehow superior to “harm”? When it’s so stupid? When “negative” doesn’t mean “bad” and “impact” doesn’t mean “affect”? Why two inexact words when one exact one is readily available?

You tell me.

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