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7 Words You Can’t Say in Campaign 2008

Holy #$%@! Do you mean we can't say *$@#! when talking about Obama's record or %&#$! if we want to discuss attacks on McCain?

Bridget Johnson


June 29, 2008 - 9:13 am
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  • Reverend: It’s good to revere and be revered. Didn’t Machiavelli say something like that? But in Campaign 2008, the holy man isn’t coming ’round to bless your house. If he baptized your kids, before or after the anti-American rant, you’d better find an electoral confessional. It’ll taint you by pew association. Then your Pew numbers will plummet. Then the requiem for your political career. Oh, lordy Lord. Soon to be replaced by the word “Bible.” Presidential hopefuls trying to be theologians. And doing a bad job.
  • Experience: Jimi Hendrix once asked if you were experienced. Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful. The campaign connotation isn’t quite so colorful. It’s just about experience, man. Do you press the button or not? Pakistani invasion? Why not? Who’s the president of Russia? Who said voters shouldn’t give you a learner’s permit for running the country?
  • Present: Not the good kind of present. Not the one wrapped in a bow or slammed onto a gift card. It’s the kind of noncommittal vote – the non-vote that only serves to confirm one’s existence on this Earth, or to denote that you’re simply a seat-warmer in the state Senate. With big ambitions. Big, big, big ambitions. So just don’t vote. Don’t leave a paper trail, a shiny ribbon of proof of what your views really are. Just vote present. Nobody will ever know the difference. They’ll just think you were too busy. Your mind was too occupied with all the cool votes you actually plan to cast in the future. Really.
  • Hussein: Both of ‘em. Not allowed to say Barack Obama’s middle name. It’s kinda Muslimish sounding. And you wouldn’t wanna do that. Because he goes to that church with the “God damn America” guy. Shouldn’t that make you feel better? And mentioning the other Hussein is just as taboo. You know, Saddam. Can’t remind anti-war voters that Saddam Hussein was bad. Really, really bad. Genocidal bad. Just keep cramming that being “present” – eek! – in Iraq for 100 years thing down voters’ throats. With no correct context.
  • Financing: Buying a car? Nope. Buying a home? Nada. Buying an election? Of course! Just don’t utter that F-bomb. Yeah, the guy said he’d take public financing if his opponent did. His opponent did. And now, Mr. Moneybags isn’t. What, can’t a guy change his mind? Especially when it suits him? Egads, I went and said the C-word there. You know which one.
  • Change: Not loose change. Not climate change. Mysterious change, like Marky Mark and his Funky Bunch running from the wind through the willows in The Happening. Good change is like morning in America. Bad change sucks. It’s the word that sounds all juicy and hopeful, but can be a bigger letdown than the fourth Indiana Jones. The PCC chastises the chastising of candidates who liberally use this word without any explanation. Just feel good, man. And be present for that financing juggernaut.

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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