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These days, election season seems to be here nearly year-round, and so do the political cliches that I love to mock. Candidates, their speechwriters and those who report on elections use a lot of overly familiar words.

I found silly examples in a number of newspapers.

First, political races always have "observers." Who has time to do all this observing? Do these people have jobs?

A campaign is always "launched." And any smart candidate "braces for a fight." Politics is a not a field for wimps.

When candidates debate, they always "clash." Just once, I'd like to see them walk on stage with shields and swords. In a proper debate, they are known to "draw stark distinctions." No fuzzy distinctions for these people.

Also, any good debate involves "lobbing verbal salvos." Do you need to warm up in the bullpen before doing so? Often, "jabs" occur. So does "sparring."

Gridlock in government? It is invariably "paralyzing."

Listen, if you're running for office, you are required to "call into question the ability" of the incumbent. If you're an incumbent, the thing to do is either "be proud of" or "stand by" your "record in office."

Either way, you are a nobody if you dare to "mince words." And don't commit any "major gaffes." (I'm not certain whether minor gaffes are OK.)

Nearly every day, something happens that "raises the stakes" in the campaign. These stakes keep this a "tight race" and also "fuel disputes."

Candidates all believe in "smart growth." I'm waiting for the one who advocates "dumb growth."

If any plan, project or proposal has dual parts, it is labeled "two-pronged." Often, a particularly complicated plan is that candidate's "signature" plan.

Each side is "unapologetic" about beliefs. When you talk about your talents, you "tout" them.

It's never a good sign when the candidate's ideas or hobbies are labeled "self-described." "A self-described germaphobe." "A self-described nerd." "A self-described fitness addict."

No wonder the big elections are normally in the cooler months. The races are always "heated competitions."

The list of candidates is always a "slate." Perhaps Moses was behind this.

As Election Day approaches, you'll find candidates either "gaining traction" or "losing traction." I can never understand why they haven't checked their tires earlier in the race.

At least one person in the race will announce with confidence that his message is "resonating with the public." Or that he is "an agent of change." Or that she will take a "fresh look" at either spending, priorities or issues. Or that it's time to "change the status quo." They teach these things in Candidate 101.

The aforementioned observers late in the race turn into "prognosticators" who tell you that one candidate or the other is "all but assured" to be the winner. The slightly shier observers merely "widely assume" the results of election.


I asked readers to send in their choice for collective nouns for people in the same profession. Here they are:

An annoyance of telemarketers

A fastidiousness of grammarians

A fragment of grammarians

A trunk of luggage salesmen

A drudge of work duties

An ottoman of furniture salesmen

A fuse of demolition experts

A drool of exotic dancers

A spin of tire dealers

A cord of loggers

A chord of musicians

A shot of bartenders

A rash of soaked-diaper babies

A slice of surgeons

A slash of surgeons

A palette of artists

A string of piano tuners


Irony isn't something that's simply unlikely or coincidental. An ironic item is contradictory or the opposite of what was expected.

Her name was Angel, but she was the most devilish person I have ever known.

Rain on your wedding day is not ironic. (Sorry, Alanis Morissette. Your song was called "Ironic," but your examples weren't.)

Getting a divorce on your wedding day may be ironic, but I can't be sure about that.

Sources: The Washington Post, numerous newspapers across the United States, Merriam-Webster

ActiveStyle on 09/17/2018

Print Headline: Elections bring out all cliches


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