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."
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."