Wednesday, November 24, 2010


November 24, 2010

This time around we heard it all again, that bizarre bunch of catchphrases that come tumbling out of every politician’s mouth – at least one side of it – whenever he or she speaks.
I’m not talking about the baby babble that appears to have taken over our cherished language, the Valley Girl kayokay stuff that some of us find grody to the max. Nor about the incessant use of infantese such as “diddent” and “wouldent” or, as I heard NBC’s Brian Williams say, “monsterous”.
Nor about the “if you will” crowd who flogged that corny phrase to death. Or Caroline, you know, Kennedy who never stood a, you know, chance in the Democratic, you know, primary because she made Sarah Palin look like a, you know, brain surgeon.
No, this is about politicos who parrot incessantly those pet slogans that seem to mean so much to them but so very little to the rest of us. Especially after the umpteenth recital.
Election time brought in a resurgence, if you will, of all those political done-to-death-ers like “street cred” and “big tent” and the, you know, king of ‘em all, “The American People” for whom every politician and his dog claims to speak.
Do they really speak for us with the jarring cliches they repeat ad nauseam or do we all prefer just plain talk.
Exactly how many individuals have been thrown under the bus? Which bus are they talking about? They do say THE bus. Surely that driver would have wiped the blood off his radiator and learned to look out for folks being hurled to the pavement. But no, the victims keep coming.
And notice how many lines have been drawn in the sand by our politicos? By now the Arabian Desert must resemble a great big sandy college-ruled composition book, with the Sahara already looking like Spaghetti Junction.
John McCain was still using the banal “my friends” in addressing his listeners even though his friends were giving him an increasingly wide berth in droves. And all that stuff from the lot of them about flip-flops and hidden agendas and slippery slopes and wingnuts baying for red meat while eating the low-hanging fruit. And about smoking guns and moving on and connecting with the voters...
It is what it is: simple repetitious twaddle and we were forced to endure it. Again.
All politics is local. We discovered this repeatedly as the late Speaker Tip O’Neill’s original words were hijacked and re-hijacked. And maybe this political localization is because “Washington is broken” - how often did we hear THAT one from candidates who, by the way, never offered any ideas on how to mend it.
At this stage I will gloss over all the Tea Partygoers who proudly displayed aloft their mis-spelled placards “refudiating” Obama and proclaiming him a Communist AND a Nazi (impossible: these were fiercely contradictory ideologies). Except I will point out that this trite, seemingly endless stream of embarrassingly illiterate signs, has kept the whole world sniggering at us.
Oops! Caught myself in ‘elite’ mode just now. Shouldn’t have mentioned the rotten spelling. Because there are some who insist that reasoned argument is the enemy of the people.
For quite a while we kept hearing poet James Whitcomb Riley’s duck test. You know the one: “if it walks like a duck... blah blah...”
Ducks and dog whistles. An entire political menagerie was paraded before us like some crazy prancing Warner Bros. cartoon procession. We had the pigs with lipstick, a barracuda, the pit bull hockey moms, mama grizzlies and also people jumping sharks as though this were now an established Olympic event.
And all this in place of real plans to solve our national problems. No, I don’t have the remedies up my sleeve, but I do recognize those few administrative suggestions that have a fair chance of working and I’d like to see them implemented.
Galling to note that politicians are interested in us - We The People - only at election time. Their prime goal is to get into office by corralling our vote with promises and slogans, and their secondary one is to stay there by means of attracting large donations from industry and elsewhere. As we know, there’s always a quid pro quo so that whenever a special interest group buys itself a good break we all lose out. The pie is only so big: carve out a hefty chunk for one diner and the rest of us see our thin slice dwindle even more.
So we shake our heads as the babykissers nimbly sidestep the important issues once again and instead offer up more of this time-worn jargon to make sure we remain distracted and - you’ve guessed it – keep drinking the Kool-Aid.
I’ll admit to a measure of, you know, disappointment, if you will, for I’d been hoping to hear a lot of the hackneyed political doubletalk squashed into one sentence. Something like: “The American People in this great country of ours need to reload, keep their powder dry 24/7and draw a line in the sand, then stay inside the big tent like a mama hockey grizzly with lipstick or they could jump the shark, be thrown under the bus and end up a trainwreck .”


© 2010 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.