John McCain is many things. A ranking United States senator, a twice-failed presidential candidate, the reason we have Half-Governor Sarah Palin, and most recently, a cheerleader for aggression against Vladimir Putin. Senator McCain has always struck me as the kind of man who stands on his porch on Halloween wearing an American flag tee shirt, screaming “GET OFF MY LAWN” at the hapless trick-or-treaters. He’s angry, and he’s channeling vocabulary not used in America for over one hundred years to express himself.
I love language. Words fascinate me, given that I am a voracious reader and somewhat prolific writer. And on Wednesday morning, a gifted writer I know on Facebook, John Hlinko, referenced Senator McCain’s use of the word “feckless,” in reference to President Obama’s policy on Ukraine. Remember, Senator McCain is the man who sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to a full house during his last presidential campaign. The audience lapped it up like Alex drinking milk. The definition of “feckless” is:
Lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible.
The origin of the word “feckless” can be traced back to the Scots, by way of Middle English. It was first used sometime in the mid-1500’s, and is not a commonly used term. It is, dare I say, rather old-fashioned. So is John McCain, and this got me thinking about other rarely used words McCain might start using in normal conversation, interviews, or speeches. Combining my penchant for whimsy, my slightly twisted sense of humor, and my disdain for all things right wing, I present John McCain’s Old Fashioned Words for Public Speaking.
“Such ballyhoo about my friend, Lindsay Graham! Of course Benghazi caused Putin to invade Crimea; Blanche Du Graham is never wrong.”
“I don’t know that the president is in cahoots with the Black Panthers, I just know what Ted Cruz told me to say.”
“These entire proceedings are a complete cattywumpus, and I should know; I traveled with Sarah Palin for over a year.”
“Don’t you call me cantankerous, you carbuncle on the buttocks of humanity! It’s my parking spot, Issa!”
“This will come to fisticuffs, you mark my words.”
“Yes, I’ll admit it-Sarah is a bit of a flibbertigibbet.”
“I think we have too much folderol in politics today. Why, in my time, when Teddy Roosevelt was president of the New York Police Commission…”
“The American people have been hornswaggled, I tell ya, and it’s a darn shame. Why, in my day, a lady wasn’t a lady unless her skirts covered her ankles, and she smelled of lilacs and laudanum.”
“Voting rights. Just a kerfuffle created by the left to distract us from what’s truly important. And what’s really important is how adorable my wife’s book is.”
“I’ve spoken at length about my issues during the S&L crisis; frankly, I’ve always considered it a peccadillo.”
“Well, I think the Speaker looks just spiffy this morning. That tie really brings out the orange in his cheeks.”
“You know what Obama looked like on that phone call? He looked like a tatterdemalion. It was embarrassing for America, and for the world. When Bush invaded the wrong country, he dressed up.”
If John McCain started peppering his vocabulary with more, shall we say, whimsical terminology, I think it would work wonders for the American people. Tea Partiers would be so confused, they would forget to iron their Confederate uniforms, liberals would fall over with shock that anyone on the right uses multi-syllabic words, and we in the not-so-mainstream-media would celebrate the whirligig with fast typing and giggling. Oh, and high school students’ ACT scores for reading comprehension would shoot into the stratosphere, because everyone would need to watch the news while flipping through a dictionary.
I’m telling you, this could be the Next Big Thing. Remember Spiro Agnew? Say what you want about him (including the fact that his name is an anagram for “grow a penis”), that man could give a speech. You could almost forget his transformation from fairly progressive dude to screaming fascist. He used his tongue purtier than a twenty dollar whore. And so could John McCain. He’s already got the angry old white man shtick down pat; now he just needs a thesaurus.