Politics of Personal Destruction.

Mark Odegard markodegard at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 24 08:37:13 UTC 2001

I don't know where this might fit in the word of the year/decade category,
but here goes:

Ron Kampeas, an Associated Press writer, has a bylined AP newsfeed story
(dated 24 Jan 2001, apparently) that should echo here and there around the
net. He notes how Republicans have picked up the term 'politics of personal
destruction', even though it was coined by Clinton in 1994. Quoting Clinton,
he writes:

--start quote--
"I do not believe that the politics of personal destruction is what
the American people are interested in," he said at a news
conference on March 8 of that year. Evidently, he liked it: Within
days, he was using the phrase at Democratic fund-raisers.
--end quote--

He then quotes Kathleen Hall Jamieson, "dean of the Annenberg School for
Communication at the University of Pennsylvania":

--start quote--
Jamieson, who analyzes American political rhetoric, said the phrase was one
of the more notable presidential legacies to the American language -
although it fell far short of Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" quote. Clinton
had tapped into frustration with tabloid politics.

"People were saying, we should not be engaging in politics to destroy other
persons or ideas," she said. "We should be forcefully designating areas of

She traces Republican appropriation of the phrase to late 1998, around the
time a slew of extramarital revelations surfaced about members of Congress
prosecuting Clinton during the impeachment hearings.

It was a rare occurrence. "We'd just coined a political phrase both sides
are comfortable with,'" she said.
--end quote--

Yes. Term may be here to stay.
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