Wild Bill notes that many speakers, including academics, like the phrase “undermine the very fabric of our society,” and he asks how fabric can be undermined.
I am listening to and watching (not really) a U.S. evening cable-TV pundit-show, and so far I’ve heard the following phrases and terms, some of which qualify as clichés (and please note that these phrases and terms appear immediately after they have been uttered during just one show, and please note that the political persuasion of the show really doesn’t matter):
1. “Draw a line in the sand.” I suspect this weary metaphor is supposed to suggest something like an ultimatum. But really, if one draws a line in the sand, the wind or water will likely erase it soon.
2. “The public option.” Why is health-care for the public an “option”? This question must have occurred to observers not from the U.S.
3. “Moves the ball an inch forward.” A familiar politics-as-American-football metaphor, although I guess it could also refer to rugby. Ironically, although it involves a small unit of measurement, it is hopelessly imprecise when applied, for example, to health-care reform.
4. “Americans voted for change.” Indeed. With the economy the way it has been, we could hardly have voted for more than (pocket) change. Nyuck, nyuck.
5. “Executing on their game-plan.” More sports. Why the “on”? And how lovely that it’s a game.
6. “The log-jam is so bad.” I’ve actually looked at fir-tree logs floating in the Puget Sound, where they “wait” to be moved to a pulp-plant. A log-jam in this instance is a good thing. It means all the logs are together.
7. [A commercial advertisement during the show says that a car-making corporation “speaks car.” I presume the company can imitate the sounds of engines and horns. I am happy for them.]
8. “Out-sourcing.” I’m too exasperated with this term to analyze it. I offer it up to you.
9. “I have indicated . . . .” George Carlin didn’t like this word, especially as uttered by politicians, I think because he thought it was pretentious, and it may well be. It doesn’t bother me because I think of it as suggesting the index-finger–and pointing. But, as they say, it was and is dangerous to disagree with Samuel Johnson–and with Carlin.
10. “Multi-pronged deliberative process.” So . . . the process looks like a fork. If so, I’m worried.
11. “Support the troops.” Tax-payers support the troops indirectly. People entertain the troops and buy food for the troops’ families back home. So there are direct means of supporting troops. But most deployers of the term are just gas-bagging, to use something of a cliché.