cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
It may surprise some of my readers but I read Eugene Kane’s columns regularly. I had occasion to meet him at a blog conference once and shook hands with him. I told him then that I enjoyed his writing but that I seldom agreed with him. He graciously accepted that and we parted ways.
Today he writes about a political art form called “dog whistle politics”. Obviously dog whistles are supposed to rely upon sounds that human ears cannot hear but that dog ears are able to hear. This was a term new to me; I hadn’t heard it or read it before this morning. It is a noun, and is further defined as “a concealed, coded, or unstated idea, usually divisive or politically dangerous, nevertheless understood by the intended voters.”
Both parties are accustomed to using dog whistle politics according to members of the media who identify such phrases as being about things like “voter suppression” vs. “voter fraud”, obviously with the former being a Democrat utterance and the latter being a Republican utterance heard whenever photo ID cards are discussed in code. Another example cited is the use by Democrats of the phrase “war against women” as code words to identify the abortion and birth control issues. Republicans use of the phrase “preserving the sanctity of marriage” is another of the dog whistle phrases according to the experts…many of whom seem to be members of the media.
When you stop to think about it, there have been dog whistle phrases in use for many, many years. We have probably referred to most of those as the use of euphemisms, but the phrase “dog whistle politics” carries the imagery that works quite well in a political context.
Kane’s tongue-in-cheek, I presume, conclusion was that political people ought to simply come out and say what they mean. That has been something so long forbidden to politicians that I doubt we’ll see a ‘say what you mean’ trend in campaigns for many years to come other than possibly by VP Joe Biden. How would the congressional pontificators handle debates? They would be unable to use such ingratiating, but false, phrases as “My good friend from Ohio” or the “right honorable gentleman or gentle woman from Florida”. Congressional debates might, however, be much more enjoyable to the average citizen if such directness were to be uniformly employed.
In that case, the good friend from Ohio would become “that conniving, cheating, lying worthless piece of human flesh from Ohio” or “among the most dishonorable and corrupt people in this Chamber” instead of being a right honorable person.
We might even get back to the days when fisticuffs were occasionally seen…something like Parliament seems to be from time-to-time. Then we could devolve further and go way back to the occasional duel at twenty paces. We’d soon learn who was really serious about serving in Congress and not just there to collect the ‘bennies’.