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Decoding the Jargon, Slang & Bluster of American Political Speech

Political junkies looking for a good read may find one in an exposé of insider political language by two veteran journalists. 

It’s called “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech.”   The light-hearted book also has a serious purpose.

Co-authors Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark believe manipulative political jargon deprives political discourse of substance.  Thus, politicians say they speak “frankly” when they don’t—or tout “bold” ideas that are not.  

McCutcheon says it may also mask the truth, such as when an official quits to “spend more time with his family” or calls his word choice “inartful."

He says translating the political mumbo jumbo can benefit the public.

The authors are also collecting new phrases—such as being “cantored”—named after then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was unexpectedly ousted.

People may contribute new phrases through this website.

Tommie McNeil is a State Capitol reporter who has been covering Virginia and Virginia politics for more than a decade. He originally hails from Maryland, and also doubles as the evening anchor for 1140 WRVA in Richmond.
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