many of you, I’ve been obsessed for much of past last year
or two with the presidential campaign. And of course, this
obsession necessarily involved a whole lot of depressing and
mind-numbing exposure to the political media. As far as TV
goes, I stayed with MSNBC, mainly out of a weird allegiance
to Keith Olbermann, who started ringing the bell of opposition
in mid-2006 with his at-the-time stunning and courageous “special
comments.” But the schtick got increasingly tedious over time,
with Olbermann’s expert “guests” reduced to trotting out to
sycophantically agree with Olbermann’s theories de jour.
Even the “special comments” lost their luster.
But I hung in with MSNBC, because there was nowhere else to
Anyway, I am glad it’s all over. For the present, I’m keeping
the TV quiet; maybe I’ll check in on Rachel Maddow now and
then, because she’s flat-out great, but that’s about it. And
by the time the 2012 campaign cranks up, should anyone have
the temerity to challenge King Barack I, I hope things are
a little different.
Specifically, I hope—I demand—that a number of grammatical
terms disappear from the lexicon of the pundit class. These
folks, some of whom show flashes of humanity and human decency
from time to time, all lapse into a weird kind of unblinking
shorthand of descriptive phrases when describing the events
of the day. Unfortunately, it’s a shared weird kind
of shorthand; it’s almost like the use of these phrases is
a mandatory feature of being in the pundits’ club. And it
leads to unimaginative discourse, a swarmy and almost childish
sameness to what is supposed to be enlightened, independent
insight. Which it never is.
Here are some of the phrases I want to see banished henceforth
and forever from our political commentary:
a Karl Rove term concocted to unfairly malign John Kerry 2004,
an unnecessary exercise since there are plenty of things that
could be used to fairly malign John Kerry. Like John
Kerry. Anyway, this became a ridiculous word that lazy, fabulist
journalists seized on whenever a candidate made the unthinkable
decision to change his/her position. About any damn thing.
It’s a toxic term. We got into the mess we’re in precisely
because we’ve had a cretin in power who refuses to reflect,
to capitulate, or change course. I’m just waiting for one
public figure to say to some journalist, “Look, asshole, I
changed my mind. Bite me.” Then, and only then, “flip-flop”
will be rightfully relegated to the dumpster of history.
the deal: This is where the pundits mind-meld with The
American People from their perches at the bar at the Hay-Adams,
or wherever they go to be seen, and determine from on-high
whether or not a candidate has, simply, convinced everybody.
Obama was constantly accused by the pundits of not having
“closed the deal” with The American People as if public-policy
advocacy was the equivalent of selling The American People
a 2003 Hyundai Sonata with a few nicks but low miles. Huh?
As if an appreciable percentage of The American People weren’t
white-trash cracker racist rat-bastards with whom Obama couldn’t
close a deal on free Girl Scout Thin Mints with ice-cold milk
on a hot day. It’s a meaningless term. What if, prior to the
election, Obama had, in fact, “closed the deal”? What would
we have done then?
under the bus: I guess this is a pretty good phrase, but
I heard it used 5, 10, 15 times a night on pundit panels,
especially in reference to infighting within first Hillary’s,
and then McCain’s, incompetent campaign staffs. Somebody needs
to be blamed for (a) a primary loss; (b) a gaffe; (c) bad
polling numbers; (d) false claims of dodging gunfire; (e)
an inexplicable wardrobe expense, etc., so, usually through
a “leak” from an unattributable campaign source, some poor
bastard gets “thrown under the bus”—that is, blamed, royally
screwed, humiliated, and fired
game: a term that has its roots with Bush butt-boy turned
neocon traitor Scott McClellan. During a 2005 press conference,
McClellan, then-Bush press secretary, was trying to avoid
talking about Bush’s complicity in the murder of the City
of New Orleans. He blabbered the term “blame game” like a
fat stupid third-grader caught stealing candy about 90 times
during the course of a 15-minute press conference. This year
the term was usually used in conjunction with “thrown under
the bus” during descriptions of infighting among white Hillary
and McCain people who couldn’t figure out how to stop that
black man Obama from becoming our President.
a word that became a meaningless brand as soon as McCain
accepted the nomination and whored out his soul. The term
then became even less than meaningless when Bible Spice, the
Tool of Wasilla, started using it to describe herself.
comeback kid: This term comes with the nightmare
vision of Bubba Clinton and that phony squinty smile saying
“Yeah, I’m the comeback kid” in 1992. And lazy, stupid pundits
have used it every single time some pathetic candidate wins
something he or she wasn’t supposed to. John McCain’s up by
one-half percent among rural, uneducated white women over
80! Could he be the comeback kid?
answer is no, he could not.