Bill Safire’s Seven Bird Dog Minutes
In case you already had dinner plans and/or your TiVo was on the blink, here’s what you missed on last night’s Daily Show.
And here’s where you can get your hot off the presses copy of Bill’s updated Safire’s Political Dictionary.(1) For Republicans, the hardcover listing at $99.00.
(2) For everyone else, the paperback listing at $22.95.
Just kidding — about the Republicans not about the 99 bucks; but worth every single cent and remember it’s a reference book. Besides, with spring and summer just around the corner, at 896 pages it can also be used as a doorstop.
Even if you aren’t interested in buying it right now, the above Amazon link also leads to a virtual Safirefest (now there’s a candidate for the next edition). There’s a three minute video embed of Bill talking about language and politics, and an interesting Amazon/Safire print interview. Here’s a sample of the latter:
Amazon.com: Which politicians were the most enjoyable to research and write about for this new edition? Have any documents or speech recordings come to light that significantly changed your perception of a particular historical figure or period since you last revised the dictionary back in 1993?
Safire: In the past century, nobody tops the two Roosevelts for colorful and historic coinages. President Theodore Roosevelt minted bully pulpit and big stick, still in active use today, swung lunatic fringe from the fashion world to politics and borrowed boxing’s hat in the ring; Teddy also popularized weasel words, pussyfooting, parlor pink and mollycoddle. FDR more than matched his cousin: arsenal of democracy, four freedoms, rendezvous with destiny (based on the poet Alan Seeger’s “rendezvous with death”) were only the beginning; because I had the chance to interview FDR speechwriters Samuel Rosenman and Raymond Moley forty years ago, readers today can get some insight into the origins of New Deal, nothing to fear but fear itself, and day of infamy. (Speechwriters, even those of us with a passion for anonymity, don’t always agree on credit.)
Say what you like about Nixon (silent majority, lift of a driving dream, workfare) but the Watergate scandal that ended his administration spawned the Golden Age of Political Coinage: cover-up, Deep Throat, deep-six, enemies list, firestorm, plumbers, smoking gun, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind–the list goes on and the phrases are in current use.
Reagan gave us evil empire, make my day, morning in America, there you go again and was slammed with sleaze factor and amiable dunce). The elder Bush had read my lips, line in the sand, thousand points of light, kinder and gentler nation and was hit with wimp factor, out of the loop and voodoo economics.
Bill Clinton had Comeback Kid, triangulation, war room and was attacked with Hillarycare, Whitewater, and the lingo of Monicagate. The younger Bush — Dubya–started with compassionate conservative, faith-based, and the soft bigotry of low expectations but was soon embroiled in the war on terror, axis of evil, regime change, freedom agenda, misunderestimate, stay the course, and surge.
In answer to your question, I enjoyed it all.
And for those who can’t get enough of Safire (as if anyone could), he has just posted his first blog —- on the Oxford University Press USA’s OUPblog. His subject is: Who is the first blogger. His first foray into bloxicography is, naturally, informative and entertaining — but don’t expect to come away with an answer.