Obama Brings 'Shovel-Ready' Talk Into Mainstream

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By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 8, 2009

The image is positively retro.

Picture a sweaty brow, rolled-up sleeves, knotty forearms, calloused hands. Picture virgin land, just waiting to be transformed.

Shovel-ready land.

This is America on the eve of the Obama era.

Shovel-ready.

He keeps telling us so. On "Meet the Press," fill-in host Tom Brokaw wants to know how quickly Barack Obama can create jobs, and the president-elect promises to move fast. After all, he says, he's met with a bunch of governors "and all of them have projects that are shovel-ready."

Announcing his energy team, Obama beams about "shovel-ready projects all across the country." Unveiling his choice for education secretary, Obama plugs his plans "to start helping states and local governments with shovel-ready projects."

So many shovels.

All of them, apparently, quite ready.

But what the heck does this mean, and where does shovel-ready come from? Ah, this requires a word detective.

We place a call to Obama's transition flack. No response.

Conclusion: not answer-ready.


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