Aug 19, 2008

The jerk versus the goof

Andrew Sullivan names one of McCain's contributions to the political lexicon: the reintroduction of the word "jerk."
If he likes you, and you work for him, you're an "incompetent jerk''; if he likes you, and you're a bunch of reporters writing down his bons mots, it's "What do you want, you little jerks?''; and if you're a kid who's just asked about his age, and he wants to show that sure, fine, he likes you anyway, it's "Thanks for the question, you little jerk. You're drafted.''
I like the affection of it, and the archaism, much as I like it when Richard Dreyfuss calls that driver a "turkey" in Close Encounters. The candidates always time-travel a bit with their put-downs — Obama called himself a "goof off" in high school, which is so early eighties. It appears to have stuck. Reporters called the shot of him on a bike rearing a helmet "goofy", opponents have called him "a goofy looking guy with big ears" although SNL writers complained that he is not "goofy enough."

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