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Politics Undermines the Meaning of Words


Recently, I woke in Texas, I mean Kansas to an article about how Bloomberg Markets exposed that the Administration that campaigned on open and honest government had secretly loaned eight trillion dollars to banks during the credit crisis in order to avoid spooking investors. At the same time the Administration is quietly forcing the small banks that did not contribute to the current economic mess to increase collateral from financially strapped citizens and small business while making home loans almost impossible and all the time blaming everyone’s falling fortunes on everyone else. This realization was on the back of last weeks news that the Administration would not even participate in the budget debate. Under this leadership the economy will not recover because these clowns just can’t get out of their own way. At a time of intense concern about the future of our country, families and the world, juxtaposed against what is probably the most important election in my lifetime; it is frightening that apparently I no longer know what words mean.

The reality became painfully apparent recently when a long time friend wrote an article in which he described President Obama as “intelligent”. I quickly referenced the dictionary for the definition: “the ability to learn or understand or deal with new or trying situation: reason: the skilled use of reason: the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests).” I immediately confronted my friend who explained that he struggles with that adjective as well but because President Obama taught for years at one of the top ranked law schools, an academic appointment that carries with it the presumption of intelligence as is his recognition of being a bestselling author. Whatever incredible gaps he has in accomplishment, his knowledge of history, economics, or political philosophy are presumed to reflect intelligence. But finally, because anyone who talks about this President’s outrageous performance in honest terms will be labeled an extremist, the result of which is being taken not seriously.

Apparently the meanings of words, like “intelligent” change from time to time and during the time of change we all struggle with their meaning. A good example is the word “nice” which meant, until recently, wanton, dissolute, coy, reticent, and trivial; definitions I understood and applied. Recently that meaning has changed. Today when you call someone “nice” you mean pleasing, agreeable, appropriate, fitting and socially acceptable. Perhaps this is why the American People are so confused by the rhetoric coming out of the White House; it means something different to them than to us.

There are words that mean the same to everyone because not only do we know them but when pronounced they sound like what they mean (you may have to ask for the exact meaning, but you knew it in your heart). I recently became aware that legendary writer, producer and activist, Mel Brooks has started a new private non profit organization dedicated to preserving the word “schmuck.” In his own words “when I walk down the street and see people behaving in foolish, pathetic, or otherwise schmucky ways, I hear only words like ‘prick’ and douche bag’ . . . His study indicates that today when faced with a situation in which one can use a targeted or self-deprecating insult to convey a general feeling of disgust, people are 50 times more likely to use the word “jerk” than “schmuck” and 100 times more likely to use “dick” and 15,000 times more likely to use “f ‘ing asshole.” Further proof is that while writing this article, my computer identified “schmuck” as a misspelling suggesting I meant schnook. What does schmuck mean? In the eternal language of Yiddish it is the term for the foreskin on the head of a penis, something completely useless.

I am tired of all the double meanings from politicians, the lies, deceit, and poor performance and while it is not politically correct or socially acceptable, and at the risk of being labeled an extremist, I must go on the record as saying that this President and his Administration are a bunch of nice schmucks (in the traditional sense) and the reality is that the only chance of emerging from this terrible economic situation is in the hands of the American People no matter what the Administration tries to take credit for. Paraphrasing that immortal New York Mayor Lenny Clotch faced with a similar crisis of biblical proportion, “Could someone get these poor schmucks out of office?” or those of Rabbi Avram Belinski, “Would somebody please show th(ese) poor asshole(s) the way out of town?”


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