"optic" = seeming "narrative" PLUS "Wall Street"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 26 18:45:32 UTC 2010

Without seeing/hearing the actual text, it's a bit hard to judge, but
"optics" is well attested as a reference for underlying behavior that
"looks bad"--or, more generally, /how/ it looks, hence "optics". So, the
"optics" of a bill are the circumstances that make it appear more or
less acceptable to the public/media. And it has been covered here before.

Here are a few hits from TalkingPointsMemo, since they have a convenient
search access:

> According to conventional wisdom, George Bush lost the presidency to
> Bill Clinton because he ignored the economy. He insisted it was good
> when it wasn't good; he didn't focus on it; he seemed not to care,
> etc. Bill Clinton beat him by doing the opposite. And this President
> Bush is determined not to make his father's mistake.
> The conventional wisdom assumes it's all a matter of _optics_; but
> it's not. The White House and the media are engaged in a
> meta-discussion about the president's efforts to look engaged and
> focused on the economy.

> In all seriousness, obviously the US can't bar anybody with a
> Christian affiliation from doing relief work in Iraq. But _optics_
> seems to be the issue here. The American president is a
> deeply-believing born-again Christian.

> Clark has only been in this race for six weeks or so. So I doubt
> there's any great harm done -- from an _optics_ standpoint -- if he
> does some reshuffling.

> Luskin tells Isikoff he did nothing wrong but now concedes "I was
> completely obtuse about the _optics_ of the situation."

> CNN has an AP photo of Rove's depature this morning. You be the judge
> of what he's driving. Maybe he decided that showing up at the court
> house in his Jag to make his final plea wasn't the right _optics_.

There are much more recent ones, but the scope is pretty much the same.
But TPM only has a handful of writers, so it's not surprising that the
same turn of phrase shows up again and again (for example, Josh Marshall
at TPM also frequently uses "deep in the weeds" or "deep into the
weeds", Steve Benen, formerly of TheCarpetbaggerReport and now of the
Washinton Monthly blog, almost daily drops "stark raving mad", etc. So
here are a couple more from Google News.

Toronto Star
> So it is unclear why Harper's response to the Guergis-Jaffer
> controversy has been so focused on tactics, _optics_, politics and
> specifics. It may explain, though, why his response hasn't quieted the
> scandal.

Winnipeg Free Press
> It will be devastating to Gerrard. Despite his bravado at the AGM this
> past weekend, the provincial Liberals are in a bad place right now,
> and the _optics_ of losing Lamoureux will make Gerrard even more of a
> lame duck going into the next provincial vote.

> And at the end of the day, something called "reform" gets passed while
> everyone is looking at the shiny _optics_ and nobody asks "Well, will
> this work?" and before you know it, it's passed and the world moves on
> and maybe it's effective, but maybe it isn't.

Washington Post (Ezra Klein blog, quoting someone else)
> As a consequence, no matter what Democrats do or propose, they'll have
> to deal with the _optics_ of their proposals appearing partisan.

Daily Times Herald, Carroll, IA
> What Roberts lacks in name recognition and fund-raising he makes up in
> _optics_. He’s a natural on television who gives weight to answers
> with an ease of speech that is blessedly without the verbal hiccupping
> plaguing most modern Americans.

I found a couple "optic" before giving up, and both were from the same
site (but different authors).

> Questions regarding how teachers motivate students, make knowledge
> meaningful in order to make it critical and transformative, work with
> parents and the larger community or exercise the authority needed to
> become a constructive pedagogical force in the classroom and community
> are now sacrificed to the dictates of an instrumental rationality
> largely defined through the _optic_ of measurable utility.

> Against the idealistic rhetoric of a nation that claims it venerates
> young people lies the reality of a society that increasingly views
> youth through the _optic_ of law and order and is all too willing to
> treat them as criminals, and, when necessary, make them "disappear"
> into the farthest reaches of the carceral state.

Interestingly, while the "optics" suggest "appearance", "perception",
"optic" seems to be--in these two cases--closer to "perspective". And,
no, I am not using them as synonyms. But the CNN example of "optic" is
closer to the former.


On 4/26/2010 1:30 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> CNN reports that that the Goldman, Sachs investigation "is part of the optic
> that was developing during [the economic crash]." The optic is that "Wall
> Street" is evil, everybody else is good.
> Not only that, but the SEC investigation "plays into the whole optic of Wall
> Street versus Main Street."
> BTW, before the end of 2008, "Wall Street" meant the stock market. It did
> not ordinarily include/ mean "huge business corporations, especially banks."
> JL

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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