Every year, Merriam-Webster adds new words to its Collegiate Dictionary. These terms can have unique origins. Some words are added via scientific discoveries or breakthroughs. For instance, last year a new chemical element – copernicum – was added to the dictionary.
However, most new words in each addition of the Collegiate Dictionary find their way in via modern pop culture. The crash of the residential real estate market caused the editors at Merriam-Webster last year to add a new meaning for the word “underwater,” describing homes where mortgage loan balances were greater than that home’s fair market value.
And by sending pictures of his junk to a New York Jets team employee, Brett Favre helped the word “sexting” gain an official spot in the English lexicon.
Words that did not even exist a decade ago are now a part of our every day speech. “Man-caves” are places in our houses. “Earworms” are songs that gnaw at our brain. And “gastropubs” are places where we eat and drink.
It’s time to add a few new words to our everyday political intercourse.
For instance, one of the smartest sites on Twitter — @pourmecoffee – has apparently created the term Weinerspitzer. I propose this word makes its way into the 2013 edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary so that they can be properly defined and thereafter utilized in common political conversation.
While @pourmecoffee did not offer a precise definition, let me make a suggestion:
Weinerspitzer 1. /noun/: an elected public official with no sense of remorse or shame. 2. Weinerspitzer-ing /verb/: the unexplainable phenomenon of a disgraced former elected official rising in opinion polls despite his or her past personal indiscretions.
Origin: 2013 New York City primary election.
Other words may need additional meanings added to their definitions. For example, the “Appalachian Trail” is currently defined as a popular path through the Appalachian Mountains. With Mark Sanford’s famous hike, the Collegiate Dictionary’s definition could easily be amended to include “an Argentinian mistress.” “Hike” could take on the additional meaning of international fornication.
Whole new meanings are unlocked with these simple tweaks. Imagine the folks in cable news using these new words in a broadcast. Anderson Cooper may declare, “Mark Sanford is a real Weinerspitzer for hiking the Appalachian Trail.” Or Bill Maher might say, “Despite his hike up the Appalachian Trail, Mark Sanford is Weinerspitzering in the polls.”
It should not surprise anyone that Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer are mounting successful political comebacks from their respective sex scandals.
From the time when Alexander Hamilton admitted to paying a young woman’s husband for the privilege of “consoling” her over a three year period, sexual misconduct among our public officials has been a part of the American political landscape. And, Gary Hart’s Monkey Business aside, for the most part American voters have been quick to forgive such indiscretions.
Months after House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills was involved in a traffic stop that caused his stripper companion Fanne Foxe to dive into DC’s Tidal Basin, he was reelected with 60% of the vote. Warren Harding had so many other political scandals that no one seemed to care about his sexual conduct.
And Bill Clinton and the Kennedys skyrocketed – I mean Weinerspitzered – in the polls despite their respective trysts.
The fact of the matter is that, for whatever reason, we love Weinerspitzers. I suspect the root cause rests somewhere in the same part of the brain that compels some people to go to NASCAR races in hopes of seeing a wreck. Or maybe we just want the release of endorphins that come from giggling at the late-night sophomoric jokes at the expense of their names and circumstances. I mean, who isn’t waiting for a headline in the New York Post proclaiming “Weiner is on Everyone’s Lips?”
To paraphrase the words of that great philosopher Pogo (and at the risk of dating myself), we have met the WeinerSpitzers and they are us. Sadly, our hopes for leaders have become – and maybe always were – expectations of train wrecks and punch-lines.
Then again, maybe we have to endure the Spitzers, Weiners and Sanfords of the world to get the reward of a Goldwater, Reagan, or a Moynihan.
Until that day comes, in the words of Jimmy Fallon; “Come on, Weiner’s the total package. I don’t want to be too hard on him. I don’t have a bone to pick with that guy.”
Rick Robinson is an award-winning author of political thrillers and contemporary fiction. His books can be found on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.