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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Banned Words for 2012


I realize we must all endure certain annoyances during the campaign season -- robocalls, ugly yard signs, and a mailbox stuffed with unwanted campaign flyers -- but I must draw the line at the butchery of our language. As a wordsmith, words are my bread and butter, so I can only react with horror at some of the new words and phrases spawned by the 2012 campaign. What's most jarring is commentators insist on repeating and overusing these words, ad nauseum. For example:

"Unpack":  (verb)  Used to refer to the dissection or analysis of a political plan. Unless there is a suitcase in the same room, do not use this word.

"Optics": (noun)  Used to refer to the way a candidate or his surroundings look on television. This word should only be use when discussing the branch of physics that studies the physical properties of light.

"Litigate" (verb)  Used to refer to a discussion or argument of a political point. Unless this argument is taking place in a courtroom, do not use this word.

"Etch-A-Sketch moment" used to refer to a candidate flip-flopping on a position. Do not use this phrase unless you are holding an Etch-A-Sketch.

Attention all Republicans: "Democrat" is a noun (i.e., a thing), meaning a person belonging to the Democratic Party. If used to describe a party or policy, the word is "Democratic", an adjective (i.e., a word that describes things). Notice how every Republican insists on saying "the Democrat party". This goes back to 2000, when they used the word in subliminal advertising, focusing on the "rat" ending, in an attempt to turn voters off DemocRATS.

"Percent": Enough already with the "one percent", the "99 percent", the "47 percent"...  we all know Americans are bad at math, anyway.

"Game Changer":  An event that affects the momentum of a political race, based on the book "Game Change", about the Palin pick for the McCain ticket in 2008. Note to political pundits: Not every event is a "game changer".

"Throw someone under the bus":  meaning to sacrifice someone else to save oneself. This cliche has gotten old really fast. Besides, political betrayal is a daily occurrence in Washington. We're lucky the political parties haven't both adopted the Greyhound as their mascot.

"Job creator" and "Class warfare" are two more clichéd phrases that can also be swept into the dustbin.

"Man cave":  (noun) used to refer to a room designated to be used as a man's personal area for hobbies and leisure activities. Admittedly, this word has no relevance to politics, but it still irks me, as it connotes a derogatory caveman stereotype toward males.

"Romnesia":  O.K., this one's kind of cute. On the stump, Obama said: "If you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website or the promises you have made over the six years you have been running for president, here is the good news: ObamaCare covers pre-existing conditions. We can fix you up. We've got a cure." But beware: Romnesia is an FTD -- a Fox Transmitted Disease. You can catch it by viewing the Fox News Channel.

"Binders full of women":  Seriously, Mitt Romney still uses binders? You might recall, at the second debate, Romney told how he tried to bring women into his cabinet while governor of Massachusetts: "I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' And they brought us whole binders full of women."

And don't even ask me about the new word "vajazzle" -- I won't go there!

(And yes, I've deliberately inserted clichés in this post).

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