We might trust politicians more if they stopped “using euphemisms, false courtesies and intentionally obfuscating language,” says Politix editor David Mark. Since that’s not going to happen, Mark and fellow journalist Chuck McCutcheon wrote “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang, and Bluster of American Political Speech.” (See the authors at Politics and Prose on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.) Think you’re already an expert? See if you can pick the correct definitions, “Balderdash” style.
A. Licking one’s palm before shaking hands in order to gross out an opponent before a debate.
B. Greeting someone while looking over his or her shoulder to see if there’s anyone more important nearby.
C. A handshake where both parties increasingly tighten their grip in order to assert dominance.
A. Taking extra time to get somewhere in order to discuss a sensitive topic en route; the opposite of what people did on “The West Wing.”
B. Ensuring consensus by moving legislation methodically through a committee.
C. To delay a piece of legislation on purpose.
A. A folksy saying made up on the spot, a rhetorical tic of former Kansas Congressman Hal Broder.
B. Giving equal weight to both sides of an argument, even if one side is clearly insane, a la the late Washington Post columnist David Broder.
C. To quote your opponents at length only to criticize them, as does German journalist Henryk Broder.
A. A politician who wants to send America to war, but never served in the armed forces.
B. A politician who wants to
send America to war, but is afraid to say so.
C. A popular lunch special in the House cafeteria.
Answers: 1. B, 2. C, 3. B, 4. A