Buzzwords are what political wiseguys use to sound all important and knowing in a profession whose prime currency is the illusion of being both. They are like secret passwords for the chattering class, the verbal equivalent of a terrorist fist jab.
Picking out political buzzwords from 2008 is like shooting moose in a pigpen. The fundamentals were so dizzyingly strong, it could be tough to keep them all straight. Before you knew it “The One” had become “That One” and the “team of mavericks” were going rogue on each other. You mixed up Client 9 and Candidate 5 at the holiday party and tried to change the subject.
The lifespan of Hillary Clinton’s campaign “meta-narrative” could be charted entirely in buzzwords and catch-phrases — “inevitability” to “Clinton fatigue” to “Obamamania” to “he can’t win” to “team of rivals.”
Same with Sarah Palin — the “hockey mom” who “Geritoled” (or Viagra’d) John McCain’s campaign back to life and threatened to supplant Mrs. Clinton as the new face of American “femocracy.” That is, until she started palling around with Katie Couric and her Joe Six-Pack bona fides got lost in the aisles of Nordstrom and a string of off-message headlines. Ms. Palin was ultimately dubbed a “whack job” by a (rogue) McCainiac, and many have dismissed her efforts at image rehab as akin to putting lipstick on something or other, we forgot.
If political buzzwords in 2008 had a temperament, they would be erratic.
But enough already. We’re suspending this story to return to Washington immediately. We’re appointing ourselves “buzzword czars,” bent on putting “strict limits” on their use and proliferation. Politicians discussing the economic crisis will be forbidden from deploying that horribly overbaked “Wall Street vs. Main Street” construction. No more transparency or openness or straight talk or TARP money or kitchen sinks or post-racial or post-partisan nonsense will be “driving the conversation” in our “post-buzzword” America, either.
We’re “fired up and ready to go,” but consider this a linguistic 3 a.m. wake-up call. If Obama can quit smoking, we can quit buzzwords for at least a day.
Or a paragraph. (Cue video of cold sweat gushing down forehead.) Game on. No buzzwords, no buzzwords, no buzzwords. Can we really keep this up for a whole paragraph? Yes we can!
Oops, guess not.
And can we get through an entire story about political buzzwords in 2008 without mentioning the single most pervasive concept, placard message and rally cry of all? Can we go without mentioning that certain verb/noun that begins with “c” and ends with “e” and was demanded wherever Obamamania raged and T-shirts were sold? Can we do it? Yes we did.
A closing argument, my friends: This “change election” (oops, no we can’t) was in fact a great election — great for ratings and great for drama, even if the No Drama candidate ultimately prevailed (then hired “Drama Manuel” to be his chief of staff).
Elections have consequences. And lots of buzzwords. — Mark Leibovich
Tw-, tweet-, twitt-. Combining forms all inspired by Twitter, what might be called a free nano-blogging service. It helps small groups share what they’re thinking or doing in just 140 characters per message, or tweet, as such a message is called. The service has generated new words and related Web sites. Tweet-up, for example, is either a meeting of people organized through Twitter, or the Web site that helps bring about the meetings.