The Right Opinion

The Language of Weasels

By Burt Prelutsky · Feb. 14, 2013

Some group or other recently voted on words and terms they would like to see banished in 2013. The top five vote-getters were “trending,” “spoiler alert,” “superfood,” “guru” and, predictably, “fiscal cliff.” I must confess that I had not been overly aware of “guru” in 2012 and had not heard a single reference to “superfood,” which would explain why I have no idea what it means. And while I think that pepperoni pizza fits the description, I have a hunch that whatever TV chef was tossing the term around willy-nilly doesn’t. I’m guessing it will turn out to be some overpriced item like truffles, which nobody would have the slightest interest in if it sold for a dollar-a-pound and didn’t require trained pigs to dig it up.

As you might have guessed, I have my own list. I would do away with “distinguished” when referring to a politician. And I mean any politician. So far as I’m concerned, the word is employed far too often and applied far too generously to people who do nothing more than vote for a living. In a sane world, it would only be applied to military heroes, firemen and conservative columnists, especially those residing in such left-wing bastions as California.

I would also do away with the word “revenue.” West of the Potomac, the correct word is “taxes.” But politicians, especially one named Obama, realizing that there are four-letter words that have greater acceptance in polite society than that five-letter obscenity, have found it safer to say they merely want to raise revenue. Unless I miss my guess, even that seemingly benign word will disappear, as more and more people catch on, and be replaced by one that from early childhood we have all come to love. Therefore, I suspect that in 2013, we will hear liberals insisting that it’s our patriotic duty to send “gifts” to the federal government on April 15th.

Another word I like to see go the way of the dodo is “unions.” Although my particular bugaboo is public sector unions, it recently came to my attention how dangerous private sector unions are to society. In December, we came very close to the nation’s longshoremen shutting down 14 major ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. For all intents and purposes, 14,000 dock workers could have shut down our economy, as if Obama and his stooges in Congress need any help in that area. At this point, we’re enjoying a one month moratorium, but the strike could still take place before the end of January.

I don’t know what the cargo handlers are asking for, but I’m betting that the answer is to be found in the immortal words of Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, who, when asked what labor wants, answered, “We want more, and when it becomes more, we shall still want more and we shall never cease to demand more.”

The man who led the AFL for half of his 74 years also said, “It is impossible for capitalism and labor to have common interests.” The proof of that particular pudding can be seen in the recent demise of Hostess Brands, Inc. At the cost of 18,500 jobs, the union had the satisfaction of bringing the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and America’s favorite cupcakes, to its knees and then putting a bullet in its head. Come to think of it, perhaps “superfood” was a reference to Hostess’s line of bakery products.

I used to believe that perhaps the most ignominious title one could cart around was New York Times editorial writer, MSNBC host or Nobel Peace Prize recipient, but by now I have to regard Secretary of State as a strong contender. After all, in just the past 30-odd years, we’ve had the likes of Ed Muskie, Alexander Haig, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton and, presumably, John Kerry, serving as the guiding lights of our foreign policy. Let’s face it – that’s a group you wouldn’t trust to babysit your cat.

Frankly, the notion that Secretary Clinton appears to once again be first in line to run for the presidency in 2016 fills me with angst, which is a ten dollar word for nausea. We have all grown accustomed to women being held in high regard for no better reason than they got some fellow to marry them. The politically incorrect list includes everyone from Coretta King and Winnie Mandella to Imelda Marcos, Madame Nhu, Evita Peron and Michelle Obama. But nobody ever seriously referred to any of them as the smartest person in the world.

But aside from marrying Bill, Hillary’s not so distinguished resume consists in having been a corrupt lawyer in Arkansas, a mediocre senator from New York and the Secretary of State who oversaw the murder of her ambassador to Libya and three other gallant Americans, and then mimicked the three monkeys in the shameful aftermath.

Other than that, so far as I can see, her only notable accomplishment consists in having done for pants suits what Muammar Gaddafi did for movie usher uniforms.