Not-so-glossy political talk

  • Article by: SUSAN HOGAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2010 - 9:08 AM

2010 will go down as the year President Obama succeeded in making a word most widely used by crafters a mainstay in political writing and discourse.

This was not a strategic move by the president to adopt or overtake scrapbooking lingo. Rather, the Ivy League orator simply has a penchant for active, colorful verbs.

When the November election revealed that Democrats had loss their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the president described what happened as a "shellacking."

The verb stuck, and ever since it's been used ad nauseum by the media, pundits and politicians. Some recent examples:

•"Consider what we've seen since the shellacking Democrats took in the fall elections." (Opinion writer Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post, Dec. 7.)

•The Democrats' loss represented "the largest shellacking of the majority in over a half-century." (Dec. 26 Star Tribune article quoting U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.)

•"... Obama coped with the harsh political reality stemming from his party's 'shellacking' last month." (Associated Press, Dec. 27.)

A long list of other media outlets, including NPR and the New York Times, adopted "shellacking" verbiage. Ditto more commentators than you can count.

It's become tiresome, making one long for the good old days when politicians were beaten or trounced, walloped or pummeled. Some were merely defeated.

In any case, shouldn't the press come up with its own descriptors? Why has the president's self-description been treated as the ultimate description?

As 2011 approaches, let's put the gloss and varnish back into shellacking and give this overused, politicized word back to crafters. In their world, shellacking is a good thing.

Susan Hogan is a Star Tribune digital producer/editorial writer


Google's welcome tech solution

It's a modern family scene: a child sitting next to a parent, exasperated, having spent hours trying to teach them the basics of computer use.

And it only gets worse this time of the year, when parents become laden with gadgets that they need help installing and operating.

Luckily, Google has realized just how heady a task this can be and has introduced a new site that allows its users to send their parents videos on a variety of common computer issues.

Google didn't launch the site simply out of the goodness of its heart -- the videos feature Google products -- and it isn't yet quite as comprehensive as it could be when it comes to covering the basics.

Still, it could serve as a helpful, time-saving way to improve parent-child relations, bring technophobes into the 21st century -- and to get Grandma to finally share those Christmas photos.

From an editorial in the Boston Globe

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