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At The End of the Day, Clichés are not Enlightening the Political Conversation

Don Rose 31 August 2015 No Comment

Now that the so-called “summer of Trump” is ending and the campaigns move into high gear after Labor Day, no matter which side you’re on you must share my absolute boredom with the clichés of the season–mouthed again and again by anchors, reporters and “expert” commentators alike.


First and foremost, I would like to give a good swift kick in the vulnerable parts to the next talking head from Washington, Springfield, Chicago, New York or any other point on the political map who tells me that someone has “kicked the can down the road.”

Are you as fed up as I am with this trite, baby-talk phrase for stalling or delaying a big decision?

I don’t have a program that counts the number of times it has been muttered by even the wisest of political commentators, but I am sure it is Number One by a wide margin. That badly dented can has been verbally kicked so frequently and so far as to circumvent the globe four times by now.

Another repetitious piece of pundit-speak that ought to be exiled quickly is the phrase “Trump is sucking up all the oxygen in the room,” which, roughly translated, means “I am talking so much about the jerk that I don’t have time to talk about any other candidates–let alone the odd possibility that I might talk about an issue.”

Well, at least they are no longer talking about “soccer moms” or wondering whether George W. Bush had enough “gravitas” to be elected. As we may recall, W did not have much gravitas, but he got elected twice anyway–maybe because soccer moms don’t know what gravitas is.

My teenage grandsons have finally stopped referring to anything good as “awesome,” so can’t those grown-up commentators quit recycling catch-words such as “authentic,” which has been around for a half dozen presidential cycles? You know, Trump is, Hillary isn’t; Sanders is, Jeb isn’t; etc., ad nauseum.

They could also give up on White House hipster talk, such as “optics,” which means the way things look rather than actually are. Or “unpack” an idea, which means explain or define. They also keep talking about a politician creating a “brand,” which conjures up the delightful image of some candidate having a red-hot iron applied to his or her bare backside.

Then there is the maddening over-use of “icon” or “iconic,” not only by the political commentariat but a wider range of scribblers and babblers referring to any object or cultural figure that has been around for maybe five years. How about narrowing the word down, as it should be, to real icons, such as Bob Dylan or the Washington  Monument–or even G. Washington himself?

Why oh why do these characters who consider themselves journalists or thinkers continue to echo and re-echo the same sorry clichés? Maybe to sound hip–but more likely because they are really a substitute for actual thought.

At the end of the day, I would also like to banish to the seventh circle of hell the next talking head who says “At the end of the day…”

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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