Archive for the ‘Sarah Palin’ Category

Yesterday Maureen Dowd used the word “casuistry” in her critique of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech. I consider myself fairly well-read and articulate, but I’m certain I’ve never encountered this word. Fast forward a couple of hours and now I’m reading Claire Cain Miller’s piece about new P.R. strategies for start-ups in the Times business section and it mentions Wordnik, the beta site that’s all about words. So, I thought I’d check out what it had to say about casuistry.

Move over–this site not only has definitions from four dictionaries, but it includes etymology, relevant tweets and usage over time,  cleverly visualized in a very NYTimes-esque bubble chart. Since Dowd used the word, two people posted tweets (1 was a comment about Dowd’s usage). The word was most popular between 1830 and 1860, the related antonyms and synonyms are “correct,” “true,” “fallacy,” and “sophism,” respectively. For those who are visual learners, there is a section where you can see what Flickr users think a word looks like (no visual for casuistry, but check out images for the synonym fallacy).

Wordnik wants to be “a place for all the words and everything know about them.” May I make one suggestion to satisfy us word puzzlers out there–stats on crossword references would make it nearly perfect!


Poor Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, unwittingly flung onto the national stage at the Oct 13 debate and forever known to us as “Joe the Plumber.” But it hasn’t stopped there! Now John McCain, as described in the New York Times blog, The Caucus, has encountered Joe the Florist and David the Dentist. In her Oct. 21 interview with CNN, Sarah Palin introduced us to some new characters, Jane the Engineer, Molly the Dental Hygienist and Chuck the Teacher and “all these good, hard-working Americans who are, finally were able to hear in very plain talk the other night, what Barack Obama’s intentions were to redistribute wealth.” Uh, what was that, Sarah?

It’s no surprise in a country with over 300 million people that politicians are like marketers–they view the American people as a collection of simple archetypes. Political campaigns have always looked to segmentation and demographic data to help them hone their message. And of course, there are focus groups and polls to round out the myriad of tool available to pols to better understand audiences. Maybe someday, to reflect the true color of our country, we’ll see Aishwarya the Accountant and Rashan the Fireman added to the mix.